While the information age has brought us almost too many blessings to count, it also has a dark underside no one really likes talking about. We can contact people halfway across the world with the press of a button, each of us can reach a global audience of millions in seconds, and yet… And yet there are those instances when that faceless mass of humanity in the crowd, which is usually invisible, makes itself known in ways that often ruin lives.
Of course, public shaming is hardly new. The Ancient Greeks shunned people they didn’t agree with. Jumping forward in time, the Puritans of American history (in)famously branded women who committed adultery with a scarlet A. So what changed? Well, the scope and publicity of these acts of shaming. If they used to take place privately, between people or contained within a community, today these stories go viral and reach people all over the world, as one woman’s story shows.
A life ruined
In 2016, an Indiana hair stylist named Holly Jones left a mean-spirited, heartless rant on the Facebook page of one Indianapolis restaurant. She wrote, in great detail, about the bad experience she had had there on New Year’s Eve, and complained endlessly about the service and about another patron nearly losing their life.
Following a reply by one of the restaurant’s owners, the story soon made headlines all over the world. Jones, meanwhile, received death threats and abuse. The backlash was severe and unsparing – and all because of one post.
Maybe she should have thought of her words before saying them, right?