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Old 4th February 2020, 10:36 PM   #1
Puppycow
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Twitter Mob Justice

I'm going to post a link to what is admittedly a very long YouTube video as a hook for this. I realize that many of you won't be able or willing to watch it all, so I'll try to give a brief outline of what's in the video.

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjMPJVmXxV8

The video comes from a YouTube creator named Natalie Wynn, a transgender woman who makes a lot of videos on transgender-related topics as well as other topics. Just to give you an idea of what to expect, the video currently has over 1.6 million views and the thumbs-up-to-thumbs-down ratio is 123K to 3K. The title of the video is Canceling and it's 100 minutes long, or about the length of a typical movie.

Anyway, it's about this whole phenomenon called "Cancel Culture", which is something that she recently experienced when she asked a controversial trans man named Buck Angel to read a few lines in one of her recent videos. Buck Angel is controversial because of perceptions that he holds "transmedicalist" views, and is therefore an enemy of nonbinary trans people.

In the video she also talks about another recent case not involving herself. And later, another case in which a person actually committed suicide after being "canceled".

Anyway, I've never experienced anything like this myself, since I'm not famous and since I generally prefer to remain anonymous on the internet. But it opened my eyes to just how vicious and seemingly petty these things can be. It goes beyond criticism into demands that "others in the community" also participate in boycotting/ostracizing/denouncing the person being "canceled" or face ostracism themselves. They usually start with someone saying something "problematic" but it could also be something as simple as offering support for someone else who is being "canceled" or failure to denounce them.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:41 AM   #2
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The problem with easy mass communication is that so many of the masses are crazy or jerks. If people had to pay a dollar per Tweet a great deal of madness would be prevented.
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Old 5th February 2020, 05:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
The problem with easy mass communication is that so many of the masses are crazy or jerks. If people had to pay a dollar per Tweet a great deal of madness would be prevented.
This is related to my theory about why the whole world's ******.


Our world is designed by genius's and lived in by idiots.
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Old 5th February 2020, 06:17 AM   #4
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Sup with idiots and reap the diarrhoea that follows.
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Old 5th February 2020, 06:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
The problem with easy mass communication is that so many of the masses are crazy or jerks. If people had to pay a dollar per Tweet a great deal of madness would be prevented.

The Penny Arcade webcomic once presented the Greater Internet ****-wad Theory.

Normal Person + Audience + Anonymity = ****-wad
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Old 5th February 2020, 07:05 AM   #6
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Being a jerk is one thing. This kind of mob action is something else.
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Old 5th February 2020, 08:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Sup with idiots and reap the diarrhoea that follows.
I don't think I would put it so eloquently myself but I find that this reflects my own views. You can only be canceled by people you care about.

If every alt-right lunatic in the world hated me with the furry of a dozen cats being bathed it would have almost no impact on me. But if my friends think I've stepped over the line with a stupid joke I will bend over backwards to make amends.

The problem isn't cancel culture so much as it is relying on social media as your window into the world. If everything you do is measured by the standards of social media then you are kind of screwed from the beginning. Nobody is perfect to everybody. You will never live up to your own hype much less the hopes and dreams that others place on you. At some point you will falter. And if your audience is so fickle that they can't get past that, then you will reap exactly what you have sown.

I was sad when the poet of our times, Lizzo, dumped on a food delivery driver over what turned out to be a minor issue caused by Lizzo. It was stupid. It showed that she needed better handlers. And she apologized and I moved past it. But it does strike at the core of one of her best lyrics:
Why are men great 'til they gotta be great
When she had a chance to be great it is arguable that she wasn't. But then maybe afterwards she was good enough. Maybe she learned from the experience. I don't really know. I just really like her music, so she hasn't lost me. I'm just not that fickle.
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Old 5th February 2020, 09:45 AM   #8
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I;'ll let you in on a secret.

Wynn aka. Contrapoints got *more* subscribers to both her Youtube channel and her Patreon after she was supposedly "canceled". And that's because nobody gets cancelled. You may *lose* subscribers if you anger your fans enough, but you don't get cancelled.

The entire thing started with "#cancelCosby" because, you know, serial rapist, much like "#MuteRKelly" did, the entire thing turned into something of a joke joke, as in saying "you're cancelled" for people that tell an off-color joke. Then republicans heard of it and, despite their own boycotts of Nike, Kuerig, ESPN, the NFL, Nike again, Beyonce, Gillette, James Gunn, and Chick Fil-A, among many other recent examples, usually over trivial reasons like saying police brutality is bad, decided to stick it to their "LIBRULS ARE RUNNIG WILD!! CANCEL CULTURE IS OUT OF CONTROL!!!" narrative.

I keep saying, the most oversensitive group in the US, in general, are conservative white men.

Now, it's true that Contrapoints (Natalie Wynn) sometimes gets dogpiled unfairly on Twitter - sometimes by other trans people. But social media can be rough for anyone - particularly people with a mental illness. And she can likely come back and receive support - even if the dogpilers are using bots and such to flood her mentions and comments. Sometimes it's best to take a break. But trust, she's not really cancelled - she even still has her Youtube channel. Hell, people were sending clips of The Cosby show around yesterday (it was the anniversary of the time when Vanessa tried to sneak down to Baltimore more for, as the clearly enraged Clair put it, "Big Fun!", link here).

I'll also note that major rights movements will *always* end up splitting into factions of people who tolerate one another at best, and violently hate one another at worst. I suspect it's because there's more at stake for these movements than a commercial that says some dudes are jerks.

Last edited by Mumbles; 5th February 2020 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 5th February 2020, 09:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I don't think I would put it so eloquently myself but I find that this reflects my own views. You can only be canceled by people you care about.
That's small consolation to Justine Sacco.

Quote:
You will never live up to your own hype much less the hopes and dreams that others place on you. At some point you will falter. And if your audience is so fickle that they can't get past that, then you will reap exactly what you have sown.
It doesn't always matter what your own audience is like. Cancel culture can extend past your audience.
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Old 5th February 2020, 10:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
That's small consolation to Justine Sacco.
.....
She's not a good example. I'm not even sure they called it "canceling" then. She made stupid, offensive remarks in her capacity as the executive in charge of corporate communications for her employer, and she suffered the obvious consequences.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/m...il&login=email

And later they rehired her in a similar job with another division.
https://www.vox.com/2018/1/19/169110...p-return-tweet

Do you really think people should expect to make offensive remarks to the general public without the general public responding?
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Old 5th February 2020, 10:25 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
She's not a good example. I'm not even sure they called it "canceling" then.
But that's exactly what it was.

Quote:
She made stupid, offensive remarks
For anyone who actually understood what she meant, they were neither stupid nor offensive.

Quote:
in her capacity as the executive in charge of corporate communications for her employer,
It wasn't in her capacity as an employee. It was her personal twitter account, with no official connection to her job.

Quote:
and she suffered the obvious consequences.
No. The consequences of telling a joke online to a small group were not at all obvious.

Quote:
Do you really think people should expect to make offensive remarks to the general public without the general public responding?
She had 170 followers. How is that the "general public"? The "general public" would never have even known who she was, let alone what she tweeted, if a Gawker "journalist" hadn't made a thing out of it.
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Old 5th February 2020, 10:42 AM   #12
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This leads yet more credibility to my claim that social media is the great filter.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
That's small consolation to Justine Sacco.
Not on my radar: did she offend people she didn't care about or did she offend people who mattered to her?

Quote:
It doesn't always matter what your own audience is like. Cancel culture can extend past your audience.
Indeed, there is no longer a concept of "playing to the room," because the room is infinite. But, who you offend in that infinite room does still matter. Offending my family would cause me great strife. Offending people I'm not worried about offending would not.

Does Trump worry about offending Bernie Bros? Does Warren worry about offending Trump Fans?

You can only be cancelled by those who you have given power over your life. Typically that comes down to money (clients, fans, employers, etc) or emotion (family, friends, community, etc.).

As the poet of all times sang:
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
The obvious corollary being: when you have something to lose, you have less freedom. You are constrained by what you have and what you may do that would cause you to lose it. Whether it be fame, fortune, employment, companionship, or just peace.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:03 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
For anyone who actually understood what she meant, they were neither stupid nor offensive.
Her remarks were inherently offensive. If she had stood up on the plane and shouted the n-word, she wouldn't be able to claim she was just quoting a passage from "Huckleberry Finn."

Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
But that's exactly what it was. It wasn't in her capacity as an employee. It was her personal twitter account, with no official connection to her job.
She was a senior representative of her employer, and obviously plenty of people knew who she was.

Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
She had 170 followers. How is that the "general public"?T
She knew that any or all of them could have forwarded her posts to anybody or everybody. Someone in her particular line of work should have understood that. If you say outrageous things, it shouldn't be a surprise when somebody notices.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:10 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Her remarks were inherently offensive.
No, they weren't. Do you even understand what she meant? Most of the people who got upset at her clearly didn't.

Quote:
If she had stood up on the plane and shouted the n-word, she wouldn't be able to claim she was just quoting a passage from "Huckleberry Finn."
Yeah, that's not remotely comparable.

Quote:
She was a senior representative of her employer, and obviously plenty of people knew who she was.
They did after a journalist made an issue out of her tweet. Prior to that, no, very few people knew who she was.

Quote:
She knew that any or all of them could have forwarded her posts to anybody or everybody. Someone in her particular line of work should have understood that. If you say outrageous things, it shouldn't be a surprise when somebody notices.
What she said wasn't outrageous. Do you actually understand her tweet? Because you're acting as if you don't.

And you didn't just claim this was a possible consequence, you said this was an obvious consequence. But it wasn't obvious at all. This sort of cancellation over offense taken wasn't really a thing before.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Not on my radar: did she offend people she didn't care about or did she offend people who mattered to her?
She offended people she had no connection to, who then got her employer to fire her. But they didn't fire her because they were offended, they fired her because they were afraid of the mob.

Quote:
You can only be cancelled by those who you have given power over your life. Typically that comes down to money (clients, fans, employers, etc) or emotion (family, friends, community, etc.).
Most of us don't have the realistic option of not having an employer, and the employer may fire you regardless of whether or not you offend them. Sure, some people are in positions where they cannot be cancelled (see for example the recent JK Rowling twitter dustup), but that's a luxury most people don't have.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:15 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
She's not a good example. I'm not even sure they called it "canceling" then. She made stupid, offensive remarks in her capacity as the executive in charge of corporate communications for her employer, and she suffered the obvious consequences.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/m...il&login=email

And later they rehired her in a similar job with another division.
https://www.vox.com/2018/1/19/169110...p-return-tweet

Do you really think people should expect to make offensive remarks to the general public without the general public responding?
And in truth, there was no major campaign against her - her boss saw the tweet and fired her *immediately*, before anyone got worked up.

Which is why that one was "#hasjustinelandedyet" - she sent the offensive tweet and then boarded a plane to South Africa (at 12+ hour flight), so she had no clue she had been fired until she landed. People weren't attacking her, they were just laughing at her.

Does anyone *not* understand that if you do something incredibly stupid in public, and especially on social media, you can be fired for it? Frankly, I'm *far* more concerned about, say, people get fired for being gay or trans than a case like this.

Last edited by Mumbles; 5th February 2020 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 5th February 2020, 11:16 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
This leads yet more credibility to my claim that social media is the great filter.
I have no counter-argument.
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Old 5th February 2020, 12:03 PM   #19
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My problem with "cancel culture" is that it's just a neologism for boycotting that's being presented as a new phenomenon because what's being boycotted is somebody's YouTube channel or Twitter feed. "I refuse to watch anybody who gives Badperson GuyIdontlike airtime" didn't start with social media.

In 1956, the Montgomery public transit system was the victim of cancel culture.
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Old 5th February 2020, 12:04 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
....
What she said wasn't outrageous. Do you actually understand her tweet? Because you're acting as if you don't.
....

This is what she said:
Quote:
And on Dec. 20, before the final leg of her trip to Cape Town:

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Please interpret.
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Old 5th February 2020, 12:24 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
She offended people she had no connection to, who then got her employer to fire her. But they didn't fire her because they were offended, they fired her because they were afraid of the mob.
Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
And in truth, there was no major campaign against her - her boss saw the tweet and fired her *immediately*, before anyone got worked up.
Yeah, scaring the **** out of your boss with your tweet is likely not a good idea. If you have a boss.

Maybe she didn't offend her boss personally, but I think we are using "offend" here as a catch all for "negatively impact" and I think in that sense she offended her boss.

Or are we going to do a deep dive on what "offend" means in this context?


Quote:
Most of us don't have the realistic option of not having an employer, and the employer may fire you regardless of whether or not you offend them. Sure, some people are in positions where they cannot be cancelled (see for example the recent JK Rowling twitter dustup), but that's a luxury most people don't have.
No, but most of us know how to not offend the people our employers care about. If you don't, please find out before venturing onto social media.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:06 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
This is what she said:

Please interpret.
It's a solid joke (satirical for anyone paying attention), but I think her job was in public relations, so the firing is understandable.

Julian Assange has said that if you want more attention online you should change your avatar to an attractive blonde woman. I bet Sacco's tweet would not have gone viral if she were ugly. Then again, she probably wouldn't've been in PR.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:08 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
My problem with "cancel culture" is that it's just a neologism for boycotting that's being presented as a new phenomenon because what's being boycotted is somebody's YouTube channel or Twitter feed. "I refuse to watch anybody who gives Badperson GuyIdontlike airtime" didn't start with social media.

In 1956, the Montgomery public transit system was the victim of cancel culture.
The meaning got lost when it jumped over to...white Twitter, I guess. the #CancelCosby folks really did want his shows and specials dropped by networks, because, again, serial rapist (and it was specific to serious criminals that were shielded by their fame). When it made the jump, "cancel culture" became this weird mix of dogpiling and simply not bothering with the person in question any more.

(It's a bit like "woke culture". "Woke" means "Aware of bigotry in various forms, particularly against black people in the US." "Woke culture" is basically gibberish. Or are white right-wingers just afraid and angered by the word "culture" now?)

Last edited by Mumbles; 5th February 2020 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:15 PM   #24
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The Internet is the Wild West and I don't see that changing.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:28 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
The meaning got lost when it jumped over to...white Twitter, I guess.
You know, we really do have this penchant for appropriating and then completely screwing up other people's stuff, don't we? Words, ideas, achievements...continents...

Originally Posted by Mumbles View Post
(It's a bit like "woke culture". "Woke" means "Aware of bigotry in various forms, particularly against black people in the US." "Woke culture" is basically gibberish. Or are white right-wingers just afraid and angered by the word "culture" now?)
"-culture" is definitely one of their favorite attack words.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:38 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
This is what she said:



Please interpret.
She's making fun of people who think that being white insulates them from the problems of the world, and that they don't have to worry about them as a consequence. South Africa has a very high HIV infection rate, but transmission of HIV doesn't have anything to do with race, and being white obviously isn't actually any form of protection.
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Old 5th February 2020, 01:52 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Yeah, scaring the **** out of your boss with your tweet is likely not a good idea. If you have a boss.
You may be confused about what I'm taking issue with. It isn't that the company fired her. I'm not impressed that they did so, but they were indeed scared. What I'm taking issue with is in the title of this thread: twitter mob justice. Had the twitter mob not come for her, I don't think she would have been fired. And there was no good reason for the twitter mob to come for her.

Quote:
No, but most of us know how to not offend the people our employers care about. If you don't, please find out before venturing onto social media.
Given that we know that twitter mobs form, that's obviously prudent advice. But twitter mobs are a new phenomenon. There wasn't any real precedent, and no real reason for her to think at the time that this joke to a fairly small audience was putting her entire career at risk. And again, going back to the subject of this thread, twitter mobs shouldn't exist. People shouldn't have to be so guarded about their online speech for fear of offending. I don't know how to prevent them from existing. Maybe it's impossible to put the genie back in the bottle, but they are still a bad thing.

Jon Ronson did a nice little talk about this problem, and about how it's affected online communication.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

The whole talk is worth watching, but he summarizes it pretty well with this quote:

Originally Posted by Jon Ronson
The great thing about social media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people, but we're now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless.
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"As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose -- that it may violate property instead of protecting it -- then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious." - Bastiat, The Law
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Old 5th February 2020, 02:05 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
You may be confused about what I'm taking issue with. It isn't that the company fired her. I'm not impressed that they did so, but they were indeed scared. What I'm taking issue with is in the title of this thread: twitter mob justice. Had the twitter mob not come for her, I don't think she would have been fired. And there was no good reason for the twitter mob to come for her.
1) I thought she was fired before the mob formed.

2) Even after reading the explanations, the "joke" showed a lack of maturity and understanding of the very job she was hired for. That seems reason enough to fire her.



Quote:
Given that we know that twitter mobs form, that's obviously prudent advice. But twitter mobs are a new phenomenon. There wasn't any real precedent, and no real reason for her to think at the time that this joke to a fairly small audience was putting her entire career at risk. And again, going back to the subject of this thread, twitter mobs shouldn't exist. People shouldn't have to be so guarded about their online speech for fear of offending. I don't know how to prevent them from existing. Maybe it's impossible to put the genie back in the bottle, but they are still a bad thing.

Jon Ronson did a nice little talk about this problem, and about how it's affected online communication.
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

The whole talk is worth watching, but he summarizes it pretty well with this quote:
To me, a non-social media user, the entire concept that you may be having a private conversation on a medium that is meant to facilitate wide distribution of content is absurd. If you wouldn't want to see it under your picture on the front of tomorrow's paper then don't put it online. Twitter mob or not.

But the real point is that there is scant evidence of twitter mobs actually having the massive impact you claim. Your best example got her job back at the same company. Boo ******* hoo.
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Old 5th February 2020, 03:02 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Your best example got her job back at the same company. Boo ******* hoo.
This is a remarkable level of callousness. She got a job back years later. In the mean time, she was still fired, she still went through a period of unemployment, she was still turned into a social pariah, she was still hounded by the press. And for what? Having bad taste in jokes? On any objective scale, what you've posted here is worse than what she posted.
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Old 5th February 2020, 03:10 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
The Internet is the Wild West and I don't see that changing.
And thank God for that!

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Old 5th February 2020, 03:25 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
She's making fun of people who think that being white insulates them from the problems of the world, and that they don't have to worry about them as a consequence. South Africa has a very high HIV infection rate, but transmission of HIV doesn't have anything to do with race, and being white obviously isn't actually any form of protection.

That's one interpretation, which, at best, demonstrates that she's too stupid and insensitive to understand that making jokes about AIDS, race and death requires a level of comedic skill that she doesn't have.

it is also something that a certain percentage of white people would mean quite literally, and there is nothing within her "joke" that indicates she's not one of them.
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Old 5th February 2020, 03:38 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's one interpretation
It's the correct interpretation.

Quote:
making jokes about AIDS, race and death requires a level of comedic skill that she doesn't have.
That may be, but the world is worse off for not being able to tolerate badly told jokes.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:15 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
That's one interpretation, which, at best, demonstrates that she's too stupid and insensitive to understand that making jokes about AIDS, race and death requires a level of comedic skill that she doesn't have.

it is also something that a certain percentage of white people would mean quite literally, and there is nothing within her "joke" that indicates she's not one of them.
I am very fond of "Black Comedy" but with some topics you really,really,need to be good to avoid offending a lot of people.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:16 PM   #34
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The real problem with the internet is that 99% of the time, you can get away with really bad behavior with no real consequences.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:22 PM   #35
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Does it count as an example of "cancel culture" when people campaign to deplatform speakers who make their living as public figures? Asking for Krauss, Shermer, Radford etc.

ETA: Here's one example from a handful of Twitterati.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:25 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
It's the correct interpretation.



That may be, but the world is worse off for not being able to tolerate badly told jokes.
Was her tweet about England being full of “bad teeth” also wry social commentary?
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:28 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by sir drinks-a-lot View Post
This leads yet more credibility to my claim that social media is the great filter.
It is a plurality of threads of stream-of-consciousness thought that gravitate to various preconceived ideas about the world. Each of these threads has conflict where the positions of some agents shift and change.

One giant cesspool where culture and concepts are born and evolving.
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Old 5th February 2020, 04:41 PM   #38
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As Harlan Ellison said. "THe Internet is not the information superhighway but the biggest unsupervised insane asylum in History".

I don't see a solution for the problem, really. The genie is out of the bottle.
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Old 5th February 2020, 05:06 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
As Harlan Ellison said. "THe Internet is not the information superhighway but the biggest unsupervised insane asylum in History".

I don't see a solution for the problem, really. The genie is out of the bottle.
We have met the enemy and it is us
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Old 5th February 2020, 05:14 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
To me, a non-social media user, the entire concept that you may be having a private conversation on a medium that is meant to facilitate wide distribution of content is absurd. If you wouldn't want to see it under your picture on the front of tomorrow's paper then don't put it online. Twitter mob or not.

But the real point is that there is scant evidence of twitter mobs actually having the massive impact you claim. Your best example got her job back at the same company. Boo ******* hoo.
Another little secret: Larger companies (eg. Nike, Gillette) have learned to harness these outrage mobs for advertising, particularly after people started smashing their Kuerig coffee machines* when they pulled their ads from...I don't know, Hannity or Tucker's White Power Hour or whatever. Seriously, what better ad can there be than some foolsetting their shoes (and lawn) on fire, or tossing their razor in a toilet? It's not fun for individuals, and likely not for small, 1-50 person businesses, but for these big companies, the dynamics can change quite a bit.

*: Seriously, use a french press and a manual burr grinder. Yes, I am a coffee snob.
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