The’ internet mob’ can be a dangerous and hateful phenomenon, with social media permitting localised disagreements to quickly take on a world scale. In the name of righteous vengeance, the person who committed a wrong can suddenly find themselves bombarded with death threats, their place of employment bullied into firing them and their reputation in tatters, a new kind of public dishonor that can often be more hateful than the original offense.
Image credits: Kamil Macniak( not the actual photo )~ ATAGEND
This story from 2016 was a perfect example of this. After a girls left a heartless and misguided ranting on an Indianapolis restaurant’s Facebook page, the internet responded with frenzy. Yes, her post was hateful and selfish, and the restaurant director was well within his rights to admonish her in the way he did. But people soon observed her profile and business page online and began sending death threats and abuse. Some even detected strangers with the same name and harassed them as well. The woman was soon fired from her undertaking and has since disappeared from social media.
Now the post is going viral again, starting a new round of outrage and indignation about an isolated incident in a restaurant 3 years ago. What is it about these tales that keep us was coming for more? Do we just like the idea of’ doing our bit’ in the fight against bad behaviour and injustice? In an interview with The Telegraph, Dr. Guy Aitchison of University College Dublin believes this might be the case. “It’s a relatively low-cost route to feel like you are doing something noble, ” he said. “But there are also darker motivatings at work: the clairvoyant pleasure in seeing someone else brought low and humiliated.”
While online shaming does set social standards, sending a powerful message about the need for compassion and kindness through tales like this and the likes of BBQ Becky , for example, perhaps it’s time we began to think about the real-world consequences of’ destroying’ people for their mistakes, and ask ourselves if there’s a better style to go about it.