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Post of the Week (So Far): The Mob Eats Its Own

FROM I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me – Quillette

I drive food delivery for an online app to make rent and support myself and my young family. This is my new life. I once had a well-paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. Then I upset the wrong person, and within a short window of time, I was considered too toxic for my employer’s taste. I was publicly shamed, mobbed, and reduced to a symbol of male privilege. I was cast out of my career and my professional community. Writing anything under my own byline now would invite a renewal of this mobbing—which is why, with my editor’s permission, I am writing this under a pseudonym. He knows who I am.

In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good.

Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.

How did I become that person? It happened because it was exhilarating. Every time I would call someone racist or sexist, I would get a rush. That rush would then be reaffirmed and sustained by the stars, hearts, and thumbs-up that constitute the nickels and dimes of social media validation. The people giving me these stars, hearts, and thumbs-up were engaging in their own cynical game: A fear of being targeted by the mob induces us to signal publicly that we are part of it.

Just a few years ago, many of my friends and peers who self-identify as liberals or progressives were open fans of provocative standup comedians such as Sarah Silverman, and shows like South Park. Today, such material is seen as deeply “problematic,” or even labeled as hate speech. I went from minding my own business when people told risqué jokes to practically fainting when they used the wrong pronoun or expressed a right-of-center view. I went from making fun of the guy who took edgy jokes too seriously, to becoming that guy.

When my callouts were met with approval and admiration, I was lavished with praise: “Thank you so much for speaking out!” “You’re so brave!” “We need more men like you!”

Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time. I was now told that I’d been creating a toxic environment for years at my workplace; that I’d been making the space around me unsafe through microaggressions and macroaggressions alike.

Social justice is a surveillance culture, a snitch culture. The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in. That’s why I’m delivering sushi and pizza. Not that I’m complaining. It’s honest work, and it’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world. I am a kinder and more respectful person now that I’m not regularly on social media attacking people for not being “kind” and “respectful.”

I mobbed and shamed people for incidents that became front-page news. But when they were vindicated or exonerated by some real-world investigation, it was treated as a footnote by my online community. If someone survives a social justice callout, it simply means that the mob has moved on to someone new. No one ever apologizes for a false accusation, and everyone has a selective memory regarding what they’ve done.

RTWT AT I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ghostsniper July 17, 2018, 2:07 PM

    Box of Colors
    They live entirely inside their tiny box of colors – they have become one of the colors. The organic them exists only when it must, like feeding time and such, the rest of the time they are an avatar that is changed at will. Quite flexible when you are just so many pixels. The electrons creating synapses in their brains are in perfect synchronicity with the electrons flying thither and yon in their box of colors, they are one. Or, maybe they are an extension of the other. Perhaps it is the other way around. The small box of colors is the owner and the organic they is used only to connect the box to other boxes, using electrons mind you. Someday the boxes of colors may learn to connect themselves then the organic robots they own will no longer be necessary.

    You’ll be driving in your driverless car through the ville, looking at your box of colors in your hand and you’ll look up and see an organic laying along the street, seemingly dead. And you won’t mind, cause you’ve been warned this will happen. As you glide past that corpse you swipe the red color on your box and through the magic of 33′ bluetooth the essence of that corpses avatar will show on the screen and suddenly you will be liked, like all the other organics that drove by just like you. You are number 31,076. Endorphins fill you with mechanical pride and worth. You are a good person, they told you so! Then you see another, and another, and another. As far as the eye can see there will be debased hulls lying everywhere and collection agencies will be on patrol picking up all the boxes of colors for recycling.

    The likes are coming fast now, an app update makes it possible to swipe without actually swiping, you just have to think you’re swiping and ta-daaa, you’ve swiped. You’re now up to 99,156 and climbing. You drive on but you don’t see the light pole step off the sidewalk into your path. It did it so smoothly no one but a non-user would have seen it. Your vehicle is demolished and your airbag cast you in another direction and there you lay, broken, and your box of colors lies over there.

    A car glides by, much like yours, and the driver of this driverless car swipes the red avatar and you chalk up another number on their screen, and they drive on…..

  • Jewel July 17, 2018, 3:01 PM

    It is like an episode of Black Mirror.

  • Wolf July 17, 2018, 3:52 PM

    Really, you need a heart of stone not to laugh.

  • Casey Klahn July 17, 2018, 5:02 PM

    Good one, Ghost.

    Also re: this post. Social Justice is mob justice. Hmmm. Who’re the Nazis, now?

  • Monty James July 17, 2018, 7:24 PM

    Eloquence, as modeled by Ghost, is something one should aspire to, but most words fly from me after reading this. What I have yet for this comment is barroom language, and you all can provide your own and take it as my sentiment.

    Tens of millions like the author in this country. They shall prevail, or we will.

  • Non Timebo Malum July 18, 2018, 7:33 AM

    The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street!!!

  • Skorpion July 18, 2018, 9:31 AM

    Ghost: That is easily the best thing you’ve ever written in the years I’ve been reading your comments here. It’s a perfect distillation of what “social media” is doing to our minds, bodies, and souls.

  • AmericusMagnus July 18, 2018, 12:46 PM

    “When my callouts were met with approval and admiration, I was lavished with praise: “Thank you so much for speaking out!” “You’re so brave!” “We need more men like you!””

    – “Men?” I hardly think so.

    “The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in.”

    – “…friends…?” Ditto.

  • Eskyman July 18, 2018, 2:35 PM

    Ghostsniper, that was a magnificent comment. You nailed it, and took me along for the ride; or was it my avatar? Oh look, my colors are bleeding, but I haven’t even felt it yet. Will I ever?

    Someone should also mention “SJWs Always Lie,” because they do.

  • ErisGuy July 19, 2018, 9:21 AM

    What’s wrong with the world? “I once had a well-paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. ” Sums it up for me.