A commenter on the post on the studio tantrum thrown by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell going viral on YouTube after it was leaked said that such a leak was “predictable.” I asked,
“Why should it be “predictable”? Why shouldn’t we be able to trust co-workers not to try to hurt us, e-mail correspondents not to send out our messages to strangers and on social media? Was it predictable that Donald Sterling’s mistress/beard would tape his comments in his bedroom to destroy his reputation?”
This prompted Crella’s Comment of the Day on the post, From The “Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!” Files: The Golden Rule:
Exactly. It shouldn’t be predictable. However, it seems that for a lot of people, their first instinct with anything they come across is to put it on the net, no matter the consequences. It’s so easy ( and I assume, extremely satisfying to bully types) to shame and humiliate on a scale previously unknown in human history. It’s irresistible to too many.
The ability to find thousands of like-minded people in a relatively short period of time on social media, and the sheer volume of encouraging positive feedback you can receive ( ‘if so many people agree with me, I must be right!’) has brought grade-school level cliques and meanness to the fore in a great deal of adult communication. It’s the same mechanism on a large scale. People rarely step back and see themselves, but I read and just wonder at it daily…the people most stridently against fat shaming, objectification, being leered at, and other ‘lookist’ offenses on social media are routinely ridiculing Trump on his hair, weight, skin color, and posture while playing golf, comments on appearance are very common.
Ann Coulter looks ‘skeletal’, Kellyanne Conway haggard and ‘needs a good meal’; the ones most trumpeting diversity beat and bash anyone not 100% in line with their views, no deviation is allowed. We’ve seen how it works on campus with conservative speakers being shouted down and chased out. And, as in this case, the utter cruelty of catching people on recording or video and sharing it as proof that you’re ‘in’ is ‘gotcha’ behavior one would hope people have outgrown by the time they get into high school. Is the online approval, the up votes and likes, enough of a reward for betrayal? I can’t get my head around being willing to ruin real life relationships or people’s careers for online accolades…for something that mainly exists in your head and on a screen.
When I first got on the internet, I was fascinated. I could not get many English publications where I live, and here was a resource with which I could read anything from anywhere. I read, and read, and read, it was wonderful. I could also communicate for free or for little cost with my family. Little did I expect it to turn into what it has today. There were always extreme ugly message boards etc, but now it’s in our faces daily. It does have the benefit, however, of showing people’s true colors, and serves as fair warning. I don’t buy ‘But I’m not like that in real life’….people who say that are ‘not like that’ in real life only because they’d have to face real immediate consequences, but it *is* who they are.
Many times I think to myself that we really have not progressed beyond torches and pitchforks, no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise.