A social media mob attacked a fan who was caught on camera keeping a baseball from a child sitting in the stands.
The internet is like a starved attack dog waiting to jump at any sudden movement. Here are four recent happenings that pull back the curtain on the disgusting condition of humanity today. If you’re not outraged by the following, I’ll have failed my job.
Sarah Jeong: The New York Times last week promoted tech writer and Asian-American Sarah Jeong to its editorial board. It didn’t take long for outside groups to scour her Twitter account and unload a string of racist tweets from 2014. Examples include:
“oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men”
“(expletive) (expletive) white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs (vulgarity) on fire hydrants.”
The Times has stood by its decision to hire her.
Selfish Cubs fan: A video surfaced of a recent Chicago Cubs baseball game in which a foul ball gets tossed to an excited-looking boy, who then drops it. The man behind the boy scrambles for the ball and holds it up triumphantly before giving it to the woman next to him.
James Gunn: To the dismay of Marvel fans around the globe, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise took a blow two weeks ago when Disney sacked director James Gunn for several decade-old tweets making light of subjects like rape and pedophilia. He was in the middle of shooting his third and final installment of the series.
Indian kidnapping: WhatsApp users in India have feverishly circulated CCTV footage of two unidentified men riding a motorcycle who pull alongside a group of children playing in the street. The man on the back then grabs a boy and the three ride off. The other children chase after the kidnappers, but to no avail.
Blood boiling yet? No doubt, you’ve had plenty to spew about the past few days as you’ve done your own reading, scrolling, sharing and commenting. But one thing remains noticeably absent from these stories — the whole truth. Like looking through the lens of a camera, we too often see only what’s in front of us, never turning our heads to digest the whole scene. Let me demonstrate:
Sarah Jeong? Turns out those tweets were intended as a satirical response to the racism, misogyny and vile speech Jeong has experienced as an outspoken Asian feminist. Were they the right way to go about the matter? Probably not, and Jeong admits the same. But removing the context of the tweets is an inappropriate way to skewer an otherwise decent human being.
Selfish Cubs fan? That wasn’t the first foul ball that came his way during the game — he eventually got four. He had already distributed the other balls to those around him, including the boy. Oh, and the woman next to him was his wife, and they were celebrating their anniversary.
James Gunn? Those old tweets surfaced at the hands of an alt-right conspiracy theorist, yet Disney acted decisively without pause for thought. As with Sarah Jeong, these tweets are unacceptable, but Disney would have been wise to consider the source of the smear campaign before forging ahead.
Indian kidnappers? Those men on the motorcycle aren’t kidnappers. In fact, they’re not even Indian. The video is a truncated version of a Pakistani public service announcement about child safety. The last 10 seconds, conveniently cut from the WhatsApp version, show the kidnappers holding a sign to the camera imploring parents to keep an eye on their children.
The outraged reactions to the shortened video have moved beyond the pale. At least seven people have been mobbed to death by Indians hypersensitive to the rumors of kidnappers. Two victims in June stopped to ask for directions before they were beaten and killed.
In response to the Cubs fan controversy, NPR commentator Scott Simon concluded with this query: “How many of us today would rather be outraged than informed?”
That’s exactly the soul-searching question I ask you and myself. It’s easy to be outraged, even fun at times. But if anything is to be done about the state of our politics, rhetoric or personal relationships, outrage is not the answer. It’s unproductive and even lethal, as some Indian mobs demonstrate. Only measured thinkers who would rather listen and learn before smearing another will lead others through the din and dim of today.
Cast members of “Guardians” actually had the best response to any of these outrages. In a joint statement expressing support for Gunn, they wrote that “(we) have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss.”
Come again? Surely if Hollywood types can think, pray, listen and discuss before responding to the latest cataclysm, we can, too.