Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!’ Files: The Golden Rule”

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.


12 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘Stop Making Me Defend Lawrence O’Donnell!’ Files: The Golden Rule”

  1. Crella that was lovely. Especially appreciate the last sentence. It seems evil never goes away, it just changes generations and methods.

    You might want to check out World Without Mind by Foer.

    I remember when that Sterling thing came out. It was far more disturbing to me that his private conversation was leaked than what he said. Thought policing like that was dangerous then & seems to be worse now.

    With Google Home & Siri & Alexa always listening, what other private moments will be heard & eventually punished?

    • “With Google Home & Siri & Alexa always listening, what other private moments will be heard & eventually punished?”

      Simple: don’t use such devices. I won’t have a TV with a camera in my home, because Samsung proved they could be hacked and video in your home. Same applies for social media: I was trained to put such little clues together in order to profile and find an enemy. Why give such information up voluntarily?

      I mean, if the NSA wants me, they can get me (everyone is technically a criminal under US law, and they record all Internet and cell phone activity) but why make it easy?

  2. Very nice. So many of my embarrassing moments were because of being too excited or angry to think twice. And a lot of these things that go viral, would once have led to shunning after the dance or been a nine days wonder at the watercooler. Tattling gives power and a high. But the scope was small and the stuff of diaries or long forgotten pages of a yearbook. Dramaz forgotten when people mature and move out into real life with jobs and family. (and embarrassments are reasons to avoid reunions) Bit the internet does not forget.

    And the pressure to join social networks a decade or so ago ended up sounding like a high school script for smoking or booze. So teen style mistakes that would have been forgotten are now spread far and wide at the speed of light to people who have no reason to either look beyond a mistake or who already know the offender’s a hot head who settles down. None of the checks and balances that worked with high school petty behavior work in a pond this big and this hyper-fast. No chaperones or vice principal can force people to grow up any faster. The social media that seem most effective have engaged moderators to ride herd (thank you), and even the wilds of the old IRC could be very mature.

    But as old and pervasive as these screwups seem to be to us, I believe these are growing pains from a new interaction. This interaction doesn’t feel as real as face to face of even a keg party, even if too many think it is. That doesn’t mean this shadow-life of electronic interaction doesn’t ruin lives, I just think it doesn’t satisfy as much.

    Some people latch on to the imbalanced and looser standards and really get off on using that power to incite mass hysteria. Mr Trump is foolish and a blowhard, online at least. But that is not an impeachable offense, no matter how they feel. Future politicians are learning when to shut up and that they get more done of they can keep their foot out of their mouth. Another learning opportunity. But people who lead witch hunts and lynch mobs don’t let go, they can’t give up that high.

  3. Well done Crella.

    Your second paragraph is a great example of the rot taking place in the minds of too many people; emotional reactions seems to rule the roost and real critical thinking has become quaint.

    • Excellent point! I’ve gotten so used to seeing ‘viral’ that I’d forgotten what an ugly concept the word would normally represent. That just jolted me a bit! It is a really weird term, isn’t it?

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