Friday, February 1, 2013

On Internet Shaming and Being Caught

I know, right? 
The story that has gone viral: Pastor in a group of eight, angered at being required to tip at a St. Louis Applebee's, writes snarky note on receipt: see picture above. Waitress shows waitress friend, who posts it online, it becomes viral on places like Reddit. Pastor is harassed by vengeful Internet, waitress who took the photo is fired, everyone's angry. Poor, Poor Applebee's. 

"How did we get into this mess!"
This is the story today. If you go on Yahoo, you'll see comments like this, "[The Pastor] suffered 'a lapse in character and judgment' only because she was caught", getting over 1,000 thumbs up. Key word: caught. Let's get back to that.  

But first:

It's the Classic Twitter "Asshole" feed
Posting about assholes with their racist tweets is now common. After viewing these atrocities at 140 characters, swarms cry injustice and flood their twitter pages with anti-racist platitudes.

This is the world with the Internet. This is where people can find justice, a voice against the cruel.

And honestly, a part of me feels good about seeing assholes being called out and harassed. And then there's that other part of me.

The Internet is a mob. The mob. A fair, increasingly judgmental mob.

Not exactly this, but close
They are willing and ready to pounce. If you do wrong, they will shame you TO DEATH.

Is everyone really comfortable with this?

Now let me ask you this: have you ever done or said something that you now regret? Doesn't even have to be racist or entitled.

Oh right, I forgot who I was talking to. I meant one of your friends, they are the ones  that have done bad and regret!
I know I have.

Now picture the Internet, capital "I", finding out what you did. What will now happen to YOU.

The Internet won't take your bullshit and excuses. They don't know a single thing about you, only what you've done, and maybe some videos that you posted on Youtube. And because of what you did, anything done to you will be justified. Because you are filth. Even lower then the lowest. You're just upset that the Internet caught you. Key word here: Caught. 1,000+ thumbs up. The Pastor was caught. By us.

We don't need a Big Brother. We don't need a brutal theocracy. We now have the Internet.

Cower under its just will or simmer with rage in the vast crowd. Feel the relief, the safety. We are a part of it, this glorious beast.

Until we too, are caught.


  1. I have done things and said things that I've regretted. To be honest, I think if the Pastor publicly came out and said, "I am ashamed for my actions and I apologise for the shame I brought to my community," and left it at that, this wouldn't even be a story. She might still be harassed by a few crazy people, but the story behind the receipt writing wouldn't be at all viral.
    I think it's the fact that the Pastor claimed she is ashamed & then set out to get the ENTIRE restaurant fired (and only succeeded in getting the waitress fired) is the reason this story has gone viral. Also: I don't think I have heard anything from the Pastor about forgiving the waitress, which is another reason why I don't believe the Pastor is ashamed of her actions as much as she is ashamed of being caught.

  2. I see what you're saying, Heidi - but that's my point - it's not if the Pastor is ashamed or not, it's the fact that we are here to judge her on a massively disproportionate scale. This woman was rude and shitty, and it has escalated, but is this the reaction we should now call for every time something like this happens? Where does that lead us? That's what I'm wondering.