If I were famous I’d have been hung out to dry last week.
For once, a lack of status was welcome.
You see, I put a Facebook post out there that could have made me Public Enemy No. 1. Even in my invisible state, if an influential person had re-posted it and the right group feigned offense, I’m sure I’d be facing a firestorm right now.
My offense? I posted a throwaway line about being in Fargo, N.D., and how it didn’t even depress me enough to lash a belt around my neck. Frankly, it was more of a slam against Fargo than Robin Williams, whose reported suicide involved a belt around his neck. But the way social media is these days, it would have given a platform to several people waiting to take a chunk out of my hide.
The mayor of Fargo and all 138 residents of North Dakota would have lobbied to keep their borders closed to the likes of me. Experts on depression would have bemoaned me as a bully who lacked compassion and empathy and furthered the spread of despair of those in its dark clutches. The president of the Euphegenia Doubtfire Fan Club would have certainly recommended something more violent than a drive-by fruiting to punish me.
But this column isn’t really about me and my lack of fame. It’s more about the ridiculous trend of having social media serve as a rallying cry for people to take offense and complain at any half-brained remarks. Every week we seem to hear or read a story about some imagined offense that leads to calls for people’s jobs to end or their livelihoods to be forever changed. It has become the modern day whipping post with far worse results.
The immediacy of outrage leads people to jump to conclusions with a mob-like frenzy, and often they are wrong. Do you trust the unwashed masses to determine your fate? I certainly don’t. We are talking about hypocrites who will fake offense at the nickname of an NFL team and then retire to the comfort of their La-Z-Boy recliners to watch the game, not to mention the antics of the Kardashians or “The Bachelor.”
These are people who rushed to the defense of Michael Jackson when he was suspected of taking liberties with a child. But swap out his fame and his mansion called Neverland with a white van with tinted windows and exchange Bubbles the chimp with a pitbull named Killer and people would have lined up to beat him to a pulp.
More than ever, perception is reality. We convict people without facts. Just ask the Duke lacrosse team. We rush to characterize and labels such as White Hispanic are coined. We all say some dumb things at times. We should remember that before we start shouting.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to correctly spell Euphegenia.