"Online shaming?"

The longer I'm on the internet, the more I see people resorting to "social justice". People spot something they don't like that may be construed as being offensive in some way. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to focus on racism.

Let's kick this off with a question for Twitter users: Do you remember Justine Sacco? She posted a tweet that was intended to mock ignorant people who believe that white people are immune to AIDS. However, virtually the entirety of Twitter took her tweet literally, and began attacking her. This escalated when someone found out where she worked and posted it on Twitter. People began harassing her employer, requesting they fire Justine for being racist.

Meanwhile Justine was flying to Africa, completely unaware of what was happening on the internet. One woman said "It's wild to watch someone self destruct and be completely unaware of it!" Soon the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet began trending. A few hours later someone who had been waiting at the airport in Africa posted a photo of Justine walking through the arrivals gate, announcing that yes, she had landed and was "wearing sunnies as a disguise". Justine lost her job, because the internet requested it, and it was over to the people who were able to see the human behind the tweet. Until someone said that her father was a multi-millionaire. As it happens, that was a false claim, the man named simply had the same surname as Justine, whose father actually sells carpets.

Yesterday something similar happened, on a much smaller scale, and one of our politicians was accused of being racist due to someone misconstruing her comment. The news outlets, seeing that people were getting riled, ran with the story. Hey, anything that sells the papers, right?

Here's what the person who created the spark that started the fire didn't consider: when you incite hatred against an individual, you don't just harm the individual, you harm the person's family and friends. Innocent people are subjected to vile abuse, children are dragged into it because some people have no concept of decency.

There's also the impact of such a witch-hunt on a person's mental health, something I'm definitely entitled to speak out about. Remember, I had a similar experience minus (thankfully) the media getting involved. I spent months not leaving the house, and to this day I get suspicious of people, convinced that they hate me - after all, strangers who didn't know the first thing about me had been saying things like "I hope her hands rot and fall off so she's incapable of ever using a keyboard again" (yes, this was a genuine comment left by someone about me at the age of 16).

When people take it upon themselves to destroy peoples' careers and lives, they forget about the fallout of their actions. They do the damage, do a victory dance, then walk away from the mess they created to look for the next person they can take down. It says an awful lot about people when we take pleasure in doing permanent damage to someone's life and career prospects.