on dividing lines

I have endeavored to be cautious online in a lot of ways. It’s mostly the memory of the early days of the internet when DSL began to take hold but there wasn’t a lot of robust security, and hackers had a period of easy pickings. I’ve never gotten over that sense.

Personal security online remains a big deal; LifeLock exists for a reason. But now social media has seen the rise of another concern, personal destruction resulting from an outraged online mob.

Rosanne Barr’s defenestration after her tweet about Valerie Jarrett isn’t really what I have in mind; Rosanne is a well-known celebrity, and her tweet was intentionally provocative. Justine Sacco is the model here: a private individual posting something not intended to provoke to a handful of followers that someone with a media presence and following uses to whip up enough outrage that her personal life is ripped to shreds, with no useful benefit sought by her attackers, only the thrill of destroying someone.

The new stage involves the Huffington Post, a woman on Twitter who was anonymous until doxxed, and her husband who was fired from an unrelated job, even though he had no apparent involvement in his wife’s Twitter use. This is madness.

This hardening of dividing lines in culture and the willingness to destroy random people is the theme of this cri de couer from Megan Fox. As @polimath on Twitter notes, everyone thinks they’re losing and threatened with extermination, but the critical mass for this sort of thing does create momentum on the Left in a way not available to the Right. What’s going to be troubling is the tactics and tools implemented in response, and when that response comes, I doubt people on the Left will be quoting Martin Luther King Jr. to explain the desperation of their actions.

And as always, the protected class described by Peggy Noonan will continue writing, explaining, regulating, and legislating. Some of them might genuinely wonder 1) how to improve things and 2) why their actions aren’t helping. Too many, I suspect, either lack that self awareness or simply enjoy their status and power to act without real concern in a sort of “Après moi le déluge” sort of way. I suspect we live in interesting times.

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