Somewhere, somehow, even before Maxine Waters decided to sic every frustrated progressive on Trump officials who just want to enjoy every citizen’s right to the pursuit of happiness, the unethical concept that it is acceptable, indeed virtuous, to harass, harm and and attempt to destroy people because you don’t agree with them took root. Social media has been a prime carrier of this uncivilized and undemocratic plague, and this was a recent, and frightening, example.
Wanna Thompson is a freelance writer based in Toronto whose personal website and social media accounts give her a platform as a cultural critic. Last month she posted a tweet about recording and concert artist Nicki Minaj, whose nasal voice is among the most irritating sounds in all of hip-hop. Thompson was trying to prompt a discussion–you know, like I do on Ethics Alarms.
“You know how dope it would be if Nicki put out mature content?” she wrote to her then 14,000 or so Twitter followers. “No silly” stuff, she added, “Just reflecting on past relationships, being a boss, hardships, etc. She’s touching 40 soon, a new direction is needed.”
In an epic instance of punching down and abusing celebrity power, the thin-skinned Minaj attacked the woman on social media, and triggered her many fans to do the same.
Thompson says she received thousands of vicious messages on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email and even on her cellphone. Some cyber vigilantes included pictures of her 4-year-old daughter that Wanna had posted on Instagram Other messages directed her to kill herself. The social media outrage made her so controversial that an entertainment blog withdrew her paid internship. Now Wanna says she is “physically drained” and “mentally depleted.”
Obviously the worst of the Ethics Dunces here is Minaj, which should come as no surprise to anyone who watched her diva-jerk act when she served as a judge during the last, awful season of “American Idol” before its recent ( wan) reincarnation.
A mega-millionaire and a pop music giant, the singer felt she had to rebut and destroy an obscure blogger who dared to offer minor criticism. She called Thompson “ugly” and wrote, among other things “Just say u jealous I’m rich, famous intelligent, pretty and go!”
As I said: jerk.
What was primarily wrong about Thompson’s critique was that Micki Minaj isn’t any more capable of being mature than she is of writing standard English.
Now Thompson, unemployed and wondering if her planned career as a writer will be permanently derailed by this social media mugging, says that while she will not withdraw her opinion of Minaj’s music, she wishes she had never made it public. “If I knew it would get this much harassment and that my daughter would be affected, I don’t think that I would have posted it,” she says. Which, of course, is the idea behind such cyber-bullying: chill opinion, punish dissent, and assimilate everyone. “The nail that sticks out will be hammered flat,” says one version of an old proverb. Celebrities, congresswomen and Presidents who abuse their power, prominence and position to help with the hammering harm liberty and free speech, and plant the seeds of totalitarianism in our culture.
So do social media users who unite to punish discordant tones in their echo chambers.