Thursday Questions: Mob Justice and Social Media
The New York Times Sunday Magazine is going to publish an article titled “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine’s Sacco’s Life.”
Justine Sacco was woman who published the tweet “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” and then discovered she created an Internet storm and lost her job. The article has other stories about people whose posts were taking out of context and this caused an extreme storm of public anger and rage.
Choice quote: “Social media is so perfectly designed to manipulate our desire for approval, and that is what led to her undoing. Her tormentors were instantly congratulated as they took Sacco down, bit by bit, and so they continued to do so.”
This goes back to Rufus’s post about making fun of dudes who wear Fedoras and whether they are all MRA or MRA by association and whether it is okay to make fun of “nice guys” or not.
There is something about the Internet that reminds me very much of the Two Minutes of Hate from 1984 and we are all the Haters and we are all Emmanuel Goldstein as well.
Thursday questions: What is it about the Internet that makes it so easy to put people into the stocks? Why is a charitable reading the hardest thing to come by? Is this going to be a permanent part of Internet life or will it end and how?
There are serious threats on the Internet. No one should be doxxed and there is no excuse for the sexist and violent antics of death and rape threats. Yet I don’t think sites like the stuff Rufus pointed out in his thread do any good and there is something disturbing to me about the kind of lynch mobbing that Sacco went through even though her comment was rather tone deaf. The most successful on-line news sites like Gawker Media seem to be built on snark and cruelty and I find this a problematic. Gawker Media can publish really interesting stuff like their Letters from Death Row and Letters from Unemployment series but this is only a small percentage of their output. Most of their output seems to be of the “This person is bad and should feel bad and you are totally good for making fun of this person category.”