A Note On Public Shaming And Online Witch Hunts

Remember how I said that Miami doctor deserved to get fired after physically assaulting an Uber driver in a drunken rage? I stand by it. She publicly disobeyed the Hippocratic oath, displayed extremely poor judgment, and apparently lacks the medical knowledge to understand her own blood alcohol level.

That said, I’m not a huge fan of trolls posing as social justice warriors trying to get non-public figures fired for stupid tweets from six years ago. (Was Twitter around six years ago? I don’t remember.) For example: I had someone I’ve never met friend me on Facebook, which happens fairly often. I’ll call this person “Dipsy.” Said person posted a screenshot of a conversation with another Facebook friend of hers whom she likely also never met, who I’ll call “Po,” venting about a crappy day at work waiting tables. “Po” used some unsavory language in her missive.

“Dipsy” published her screenshots, along with the girl’s identifying information, and boasted about emailing “Po”‘s employer to fire her, encouraging her own friends to do the same. “Po” has been subjected to a slew of online harassment in the last 24 hours and may have lost her low-wage job.

Can we all just stop doing this, please? Saying something stupid online isn’t illegal. It’s dumb, but it’s not illegal. If someone who’s already in a low-income position says something you don’t like on the Internet, can’t you just roll your eyes and unfriend them like a normal, rational person would, secure in the knowledge that they’re ignorant and you’re better off?

Listen, I don’t know “Po” from Adam. Maybe she was being satirical in the entire thing. Maybe a douchebag nabbed her phone and posted that without her knowledge (which I say as someone whose boyfriend regularly posts from my account about things like using parmesan cheese as soap). I’m not endorsing her behavior in any way, but I’m also not personally affected by it, and I doubt anyone else truly was either.

Sure, you may feel like a big shot and a hero for a little while because you took a stand against some perceived slight from a stranger that wasn’t addressed to you, but exactly what do you get out of that? You got someone with a low-wage job who you’ve never met fired, and now that person can no longer pay her rent. That person may have medical bills, a child to care for, a sick parent, student loan debt, flood damage, or whatever. You don’t know this person’s life. You don’t even know this person. Why do you care so much? Don’t you have better things to do with your own time? Like, you know, work? Or are you busy witch hunting strangers because you’re unemployed and have idle hands yourself? You’re not improving anything but your own selfish need for satisfaction and drama. Girl, please. Go read a book. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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