Danger: Explosive Tweets
Public shaming and the mobThere’s an old mantra of the internet, the more polite version of which goes “don’t be a jerk”. As the Wikimedia community’s essay on this topic puts it:
Being right about an issue does not mean you’re behaving properly! Jerks are often right — but they’re still jerks… This is not the same as just being uncivil or impolite (though incivility and rudeness often accompany it). One can be perfectly civil and follow every rule of etiquette and still be wrong… Truly being civil and polite means that you show respect for others (such as in not needlessly pointing out grammar issues), even when right. Respect others even when you disagree.
She suggests, as a rule-of-thumb, to “go after groups”, although she doesn’t exempt individuals who are “politically powerful” or who “sizeably impact society”, so long as “punishment is proportional”. There, though, lies the problem: how can you determine proportionality? How can you judge what’s an appropriate response? In short, how do you not be a jerk?In this TED talk, Jon Ronson discusses two (in some cases quite sweary) examples of where online shaming may have over-stepped the appropriate bounds of social justice. It’s staggering how a single misjudged attempt at irony on Twitter can explode into a tirade of abuse from well-meaning people: abuse that grows into a frenzy and demands that the tweeter lose her job, which she ultimately does. There’s a couple more cases here:“Transgressions that have a clear impact on broader society – like environmental pollution – and transgressions for which there is no obvious formal route to punishment” – Jennifer Jacquet interviewed for The Observer.
- Why you should think twice before shaming anyone on social media
- ‘Overnight, everything I loved was gone’: the internet shaming of Lindsey Stone
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