If you’re going to be rude, do it anonymously
I thought this article about how the Internet never forgets was interesting. Especially how the mob mentality sets in quickly at some perceived slight, which is relayed millions of times and which eventually launches an impersonal Internet witch hunt to burn the miscreant who dared to speak in the first place.
On the one tentacle, people say something to their followers that they thought would be funny, and then the comment triggers a giant tidal wave of Internet hate. It leaves the victims bewildered that the Internet would even notice their comment.
On the other tentacle, people say something in a fit of righteous pique which then earns them the same giant tidal wave of Internet hate. It leaves the victims bewildered that the Internet didn’t agree with their opinion.
Of the two groups, I am less sympathetic to the latter. Especially to the woman who tweeted a picture at a convention of someone who offended her (someone who wasn’t even speaking to her), and caused him to lose his job. Then the Internet tidal wave of hate swept down and caused her to lose her job. Following the threads, I read her defense of her actions. It made me even less sympathetic to her. To me, she seems like another perpetually-aggrieved victim who can’t understand why everyone’s so mean to her. Well, part of it is that she acts like she’s entitled to be aggrieved. I disagree. Everyone has their wounds, their pain, their tears that they carry with them. Blaming those wounds for bad behavior is refusing to accept responsibility for one’s own actions. So when she lost her job and had to flee her home and couch-surf for a year, it’s obvious even to the most benighted simpleton that she brought it on herself. If she’d simply ignored a conversation that didn’t involve her, instead of reacting the way she did, none of those events would have occurred. (And it seems to me that her paranoid reaction of fleeing her home and mooching off friends for a year is more a result of her desire to be a victim, than of any real danger.)
Compare her to Chryssie Hynde, the lead singer of The Pretenders. I’ve always thought Ms. Hynde was just another brainless liberal, but then Hynde surprised me by saying something intelligent the other day, about how she accepted her own role in her sexual assault by a biker gang when she was a teenager. This woman is now in her 60s. She has led the life of a rock star in an industry that is legendary for its misogyny. If anyone has earned the right to speak about the challenges that women face, she has. But leftist grievance-mongers immediately screamed their hate against her for her treasonous statements. How dare a woman take any responsibility for her own actions, actions that led to her being victimized? It’s unconscionable.
I disagree. It’s not blaming the victim. It’s simply stating a fact. When two people’s lives collide, their choices led each of them to that collision. To deny it is not only stupid, it insults the intelligence of even the most casual observer.
I admire Hynde for accepting the facts that led to her ordeal, just as I disdain the woman at the convention for her denial of the facts that led to her ordeal. Bad things happened to both of them as a result of their actions.
But only one of them actually learned something from it.
And that leads me back to my original point: the Internet never forgets. So if you’re going to be rude, flippant, silly, or otherwise behave in a way that anyone could decide is insulting…
Do it anonymously.