Social media users — everyday people like you and me — have a tremendous amount of power today. And when that power is combined with the pervasive growth of outrage culture, social media becomes a destructive force that can ruin innocent lives.
That’s what Jon Ronson explores in this beautiful and poignant TED Talk that covers the story of one woman whose misinterpreted Twitter joke nearly drove her to suicide due to the overwhelming force of online shaming.
Long story short: Justine Sacco tweeted a tasteless joke to her 170 followers, as was her routine, and that one tweet became the #1 trending topic on Twitter that night. Suddenly people all over the world were calling for her head, sending her threats, and trying to destroy her life.
Or as Jon Ronson put it, these people — everyday people like you and me — were, in the name of compassion, being largely uncompassionate to this woman. Hypocritical, one might say. This TED Talk is a must-watch for everyone.
— Everything PR (@EverythingPR) November 23, 2015
Even if you don’t use Twitter yourself, this should concern you. One simple mistake is all it takes for your life to blow up. Death threats, bomb threats, racial tension — even in jest, these can be misconstrued to turn the entire world against you until the world’s sense of “justice” is satiated.
Be careful out there, but more importantly, be compassionate to your fellow human beings. Online shaming is serious, and this culture of extreme Internet drama can’t be sustained for long before it all collapses to the detriment of everyone. People make mistakes, and you can too.
Have you ever been shamed online? Or maybe you were the one wielding the pitchfork? Either way, we’d love to hear your side. Please share your stories with us in the comments!
Image Credit: Twitter on Mobile by Twin Design via Shutterstock