Social Media:Modern Witch Hunts In The Making?

One of the most recommended books that I could suggest to anyone and feel as though they would received some insight in the nature and the dangers of social media is “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” by Jon Ronson. Though Ronson does not involved the whole book just talking about social media use in public shaming, I find that on the times that he does its gives a peek into dark void that almost anyone can become vacuumed into.

The particular case is when Justine Sacco, on a trip to Cape Town, Africa made an unfunny statement (on twitter no less) about not getting AIDs, then passively made note that she can’t..because she is white. I look at a comment like this and roll my eyes stupid and bigoted ya, but from my background I have heard much worse both in jest, and sadly “legitimate” statements. Then as Ronson notes the chaos that she had unleashed on herself from strangers on the social media platform, and the complete ruination of her life, as she became a public pariah and quickly lost her impressive job and status. I enjoyed Ronson somewhat neutral take on topics like this as her statement (sent publicly) was nasty enough to elicit some form of backlash,but it seemed a little dis-positional compared to other horrid events and horrid people who in secret need a scolding.

Another event Ronson gives an example for this recent type of social media backlash is one that is much more unjust compared to Justine Sacco. Joking refereed to as “the dongle gate” a text book event of having no “good guys” only different shades of nasty gray people. Two men Roson Identifies only as Hank and Alex sit at a tech Conference, making just private enough (yet loud enough) lewd jokes about sexual imagery using programming terms, only for a woman in front of them to turn around an take a picture. An soon it was up on twitter with said woman identified Adria Richards, is costing them like they had done a recorded interview on the Access Hollywood bus. Again much like Sacco majority detractors was they’re statements unnecessary and obscene to what was a professional environment of course, but what ever happened to just turning around and making a statement yourself to them such as “ Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” . Any other statement such as that would of most likely put Hank and Alex in their place (a right and proper shamming), but no by taking a picture and hiding your intentions form them reveals to me that this is something much more nastier and hateful then just putting some random immature men in their place. Do to the universe being powered by both irony and energy Ms. Richards become the target herself to the similar style of people she successfully sicked on Hank and Mike a hateful bunch more so. To me this is a common occurrence on platforms such as twitter, and people learn nothing form them. It is the nuclear war of social media “MAD” Mutually Assured Distraction.

Hence why I make an effort to avoid social media all together. Such sites are great for reconceting with friends and family, and maybe joining like minded groups on activities, and sharing information, but as soon as you veer into any other form of uses its a swamp. We live in an era where context and satire are harder for people to scan for then legitimate bigotry, and as soon as blood is in the water the sharks will come for their pound of flesh justified or not. So That’s why i become careful of the things I post online and if there was a thing that people remembered is that you should never connect your personal life or an online history together as you never know who is going to take you out of context, or whole really means what they say.

I have made an inept at linking Jon Ronson Ted Talk on the issue as I find this important topic to talk about as social media becomes more important to some peoples life.