Social Media Run Wild

February 16, 2015 at 11:22 pm (Uncategorized)

A couple of days ago, someone at work told me, “I could totally instagram you. OOTD.”  “Please don’t,” I replied. As it turned out, it was a compliment, and if this sounds like bragging, when you hit my age, you’ll realize compliments are few and far between, so grab what you can. And for those of you who aren’t hipsters, OOTD means Outfit Of The Day (for the record I was wearing a Dalek shirt, which I think is rather cool – no? OK).

I’m not much of a social media person. I’m not on Twitter or Instagram. I do have a fairly inactive  Linked In account, but I’m not on Facebook. I did set up an account, but I never used it, and deleted it recently. I don’t even have a smart phone. I’ll confess too that the selfie stick is new to me. Scarcely had I heard the term when I read in the paper yesterday that many museums and art galleries were banning the devices (no surprise.)

Still, the thing which prompted this post was an article in the New York Times magazine yesterday about internet shaming. We all remember Justine Sacco, the PR executive who tweeted jokes, and inappropriate comments about people on her flight only to arrive at her destination in the middle of a shit-storm that saw her publicly maligned and eventually saw her lose her job.  (Ironically, the person who pushed her tweets to prominence was later caught by a remark he made – those who live by the tweet…)  What’s remarkable about that story is not just the offensive cluelessness with which people make these comments, but the gleeful viciousness in the takedown.

The oddest story was about a guy who whispered a sexist joke to his friend at a conference. A woman in the row ahead of his overheard, took his picture, then posted it to twitter with a comment. In the fury that followed, he was removed from the conference, and subsequently lost his job. Then, the internet turned on the woman who had taken the picture, and she received death threats. I understand the power of a joke, but hold on people.

Oddly enough, the stories about concentration camp selfies were absent in the article.

My only real foray into social media is this blog. For the most part, no one comments on it. A few of my friends, family and comrades occasionally leave messages, but in general, it’s quiet. The only hostile posts have been about music reviews I’ve written, one about Wilco, another Steve Ignorant.  Both were seemingly written in rage-fueled haste and laden with childish profanities and insults. Disagree with me sure, but really, can’t you express yourself better? For what it’s worth, I chose not to sink and both comments are still there, but I had decided if my “accusers” had responded with words similar to their first, I wouldn’t have allowed the post.

Is it the anonymity of the medium that causes people to react with such venom to their perceived targets? Surely the comments made would never be said in person. But people seem to have no compunctions about typing and hitting send.

And the whirlwind of destruction quickly passes on to new targets.

Here’s the Times article:

How One Stupid Tweet Blew up Justine Sacco’s Life


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