By the time 9-year-old Landon Cunningham looked up from his phone last Saturday afternoon, he had already been saved from injury. The outstretched muscular arm of his quick-acting father Shaun, 37, saved Landon from a hospital visit during a Pittsburgh Pirates-Atlanta Braves spring training game in Kissimmee, Florida, and a photo of the incident quickly went viral.
“I was just protecting my son. There wasn't a lot of time to think about it. I just reacted," Shaun told the Tribune-Review on Monday. “I'm a little bruised, but I'll survive. I've been through worse.”
That should have been the end of a feel-good story. But, Twitter users took the photo and used it as an opportunity to condemn a child for looking at his phone during a game, turning Landon into symbol of a new generation that's addicted to the glow of smartphones and unable to live and appreciate "the moment."
Landon was cast as a "phone-junkie kid":
Adults passed judgement because they're adults on the Internet, and that's what adults on the Internet do:
Worst of all, one user even wished Landon had gotten hit in the head:
(Yes, it is wrong to wish that.)
And one person actually wanted Landon to "take one for the team" to teach all lazy, preoccupied millennials some stupid lesson.
What's lazier, however, than a kid on smartphone is making negative broad-stroke assumptions about a child caught in a dangerous moment.
The reality is Landon was looking at his phone for a reason that anyone who's ever snapped a photo at an event can relate to: He was texting a picture he had just snapped to his mother. Saturday's exhibition was Landon's first professional baseball game -- a birthday gift from his parents -- and he wanted to share the moment with his mom, like any person young or old would want to do.
In short, he wasn't just screwing around on Candy Crush, you judgmental wannabe octogenarians. He was cherishing a memory.