Social media has brought back the Medieval mobs. There was a day when angry people on the streets would explode their rage upon an individual and simply begin to masticate him until he was torn limb from limb. Sometimes that person wasn’t really the individual with whom they were angry. Perhaps they were actually angry because they were hungry and the king couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it.
Perhaps it was just the local magistrate- but it didn’t matter- he was a symbol of all their frustrations and troubles. He, personally, had become everything they detested and once they had attached themselves to him, their fury would not be satiated until it was spent. Nothing on this earth could stop the mob until that person was eradicated- and their problems with him. No one will know the battle that was fought behind my screen as I read and deleted the worst of human speech, each sentiment leaving its wound upon my psyche. Society thinks we have evolved. Social media has proven us wrong. We still love the kill.
One could ask, “Why should this short video excite such violence all over the United States? It’s of a teacher who takes a microphone away from a kid who shouldn’t have it in the first place. Big deal.” One could ask similar questions about any event that sparks a killer mob. Why did it form? What motivates it? Can anyone stop it? Who partakes in it? I asked these questions as I observed the mob that descended upon this lone teacher and later, upon me as I tried to defend her from millions who wanted to harm her for such a small offense.
I didn’t see autism when I saw this video. What I saw was a parent who went to social media and used words that didn’t convey her part of the situation. Were they known, I didn’t believe such anger would have been created against the teacher. To me, it wasn’t about autism at all. But it became about autism. And according to statistics, autism affects 1 in 68 births in America. That is a lot of people- a lot of frustrated people. And many of them saw themselves in that video- and too many over empathized and over reacted. And that is why this social media mob happened.
First and foremost in any social media mob are the Empathizers and Over-Reactors. Most of this mob were mothers of children with autism or other special needs. I am appalled by the level of cursing, crassness, ugliness, hatred and and sheer rage that these mothers (and some fathers) were willing to direct toward perfect strangers on social media. They saw themselves in this mini drama and when they saw Ms. Lindsey and then, me, we became everything that has ever frustrated or criticized them in their lives. And because their lives are overwhelmed with autism, and they saw an autistic boy in the video, they could only see the event through autism lenses. We became the targets for their fury and that was that.Because they saw this entire event as a story about autism, they were hypersensitive to any remarks about autism and were quick to misinterpret any sentence as negative or even, hate filled. I’ve never harbored a negative feeling toward a parent of special needs kid in my life! Yet they said I did. From their lense and from their eyes, all they could see was hate for their children and for themselves coming from this teacher and from me. And none exists! Some of these mothers are still trying to stalk me- they are looking for me on Facebook and on my Gofundme page and are leaving the nastiest messages I’ve ever seen. For these mob mothers, no amount of logic or fact can dissuade them or move them from their hatred or anger once it’s been released. I can say I don’t hate them or their child and they will simply call me a liar. What can I do? I can explain my sentences until I am blue in the face – but it is as if they wish to believe I hate all mothers. Again, what can I do but assume that they are in love with their hate? It just feels good to to vent. That much is clear.
Some of them, in pure spite, are saying that I must have lied about being raped and hope that I lose my multi million dollar case against my rapist who is suing me for defamation. These are the same women who called this teacher and me, ‘monsters, bitches, whores, cunts and attention seekers (the irony)’. They are the ones who wished Ms. Lindsey would go and kill herself, wished someone would kill Ms. Lindsey, told Ms. Lindsey she doesn’t deserve to be a mother and doesn’t deserve to be a teacher. They told Mrs. Lindsey, that despite the new information, she should still be fired and that she deserved every bit of what she ‘got’ from the mob. These are the women who were so angry with me for trying to protect this teacher that they questioned my Christianity and told me that Jesus is angry with me and that I gave a bad name to all Christians. They told me that I had no right to call on the name of Christ because I was a bad person, a monster, and that I was going to hell. These mob mothers have no ability to reason logically and gleefully admit to not desiring to do so. “It doesn’t matter what the facts are…” “It doesn’t matter what happened…” “I don’t care if they signed the permission form…” “I didn’t bother to read this garbage BUT…” “This article is just a lie...” “No matter what, I still think…” “How dare you even write about autism, you b*tch…” , “He should be able to do what he wants…” “If he wasn’t hurting anyone, who cares about the rules…” And, apparently, my greatest sin of all was to assign any blame to any mother with a child with disabilities- that was an unforgivable sin tantamount to punching Mary, the Mother of God, in the groin.
These mob women are mothers- they are the primary examples to 1 in 68 children in America- and their siblings! And they’ve got a mouth on them that would shame a marine. But they don’t have the emotional maturity to separate themselves from the mother in the story. They think they are the mother. This is the social media mob.
But it doesn’t end there. It gets worse. Another aspect of a social media mob is the perceived anonymity. Normal, decent, everyday people think that no one can see them as they type those lurid words. For example, I said in my article that I’d observed some parents of special needs kids who acted in an entitled manner. The mob mothers flew into a crazed frenzy. Most of their response was, “If you don’t eat, breath or sleep autism, you have no right to even be writing about this event. Period.” (Entitlement, much? )I realized then that the only times I had ever witnessed this entitled behavior was on social media, never in person. I’d seen even friends write almost threatening posts about what they would do to anyone who might hurt their special needs kid. Those kinds of posts had always irritated me on some subconscious level. It was like they were always posturing, barking and warning me, even though I’d never done anything to their kid. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with them. Who likes that? But my thoughts had never reached a conscious level until this event and my article.
At school, everyone is always polite, smiling and kind. From where did these crazed lunatics and stalkers come? Well, it’s simple. Face to face, people are cowards. They would never say such horrid things to your face- nor would they reveal such pain and anguish in public. Because I truly believe this anger is actually pain and anguish of the soul. They wouldn’t want anyone to think they were capable of such… primal behavior. But online, they think they are anonymous. This rips off the mask of politeness and everything that stinks and festers below is wildly free to express itself. And express itself it does. With a passion they relish. This is the social media mob. And they have fashionable haircuts, expensive shoes and purses to match!
What so many of them didn’t realize is that I could see them. Wordpress is not Facebook- it allows me to see their exact location via their IP address. Many actually gave their email addresses that also had their last names. That allows me to go to Google maps and zoom straight down to their exact longitude and latitude so I could see their home. Armed with enough data, I once found an angry troll who had said horrible, awful things to me on my blog. I called him at his workplace. It was so odd, hearing his voice. He was so polite. It was his own small business. I pretended to be a customer- he didn’t have what I ‘wanted’ but it was clear that he was lonely and wanted to talk. So, I asked him lots of questions and he told me his business was failing. I felt sorry for him and never told him who I was. I never exposed him. And it made me similarly sad to look at some of these ladies’ homes too. So pretty and nice. I’ll bet they smile all the time at school to all the mothers and teachers. I’ll bet their manners are as groomed as their lawns. But inside, they are boiling messes. This is the social media mob.
How do you think they would have felt if I had exposed them to the vicious mob and they got to experience the horror that this teacher got to experience? .
Then there are the Two Cents People– those who just need to add them. These people have no real horse in the race but they want to ‘be a part of something’ bigger than themselves. They want to play the part of the investigator, the judge and the jury. This situation, although it involves real human beings, real anguish and real consequences, is simple fun for these people. It’s entertainment. No amount of pleading will stop these folk. You can tell them that their ‘two cents’ are damaging a person’s mental health, that their exact opinion has already been expressed at least 20 times before, but they have the mental discipline of a worm. They have verbal diarrhea and must spill their words upon the page. “I just have to say…” “I have to add…” “I really think…” “I’ve looked into this and…” “At point 2:15 in the video, we can see…” “If this really happened, then why did….” Bored people who just need something to do. In the end, they are heartless. Their entertainment needs far outweigh any guilt they might feel over the damage they might cause to a human being in the world. This is the social media mob, too.
There are Moral Equivocators. These are the ones that say things like, “Well. I don’t agree that this teacher should get death threats, BUT…” “Death threats are wrong and I pray for this teacher, BUT…..” “It’s reprehensible that this is happening to another person and I certainly don’t condone it, BUT….” The word, ‘but’ defines their moral code. I might dislike this group the most. They believe they have sound ethics, but they don’t. They would like to think they are righteous and good by upholding one victim’s rights and interests, but are completely blind to the creation of another victim. And they absolutely don’t care that they are a willing participant in the 100x worse torment of the new victim. All in the name of loving the first victim. Even though they don’t know either victim. Let’s face it. They just don’t like the one whom they are attacking and are trying their darndest to cover their attack in a moral paper and bow.
Lastly, there are just the Sociopaths. These people just love hate and anger of any sort. Whenever there is trouble, there they are relishing it. They try to pick the side that is on the attack and they gleefully join it. They don’t care what the issue is or why it’s happening. They glean as little of the story as is necessary to figure out who the ‘villain’ is and they go at them. These just use short, choppy sentences with the aim of injuring as much as possible. “Your mother should have had an abortion…” “I’d take the microphone and stick it…” “Go do the world a favor and kill yourself…” ” I feel sorry for your daughter to have a mother like you…” “I’m so glad you were sued.. I hope you lose…” etc. Sociopaths are also the social media mobs.
So, in the end, what can we do about these social media mobs? Easy. Don’t be a participant. Most of us don’t even realize that we have become part of a mob. I was so heartened that so many (thousands) who had left horrible messages to the teacher ended up apologizing. I have no doubt that she read them, was joyful and forgave them. It is never too late to apologize. (btw- if you leave an apology, I will pass it on WordPress.) They just didn’t think about what was actually happening or how many others were doing the same thing. It didn’t feel real- but once they realized that it involved a flesh and blood person, they were appalled by their actions and wanted no part in it. This is the key to stopping these mob attacks: ie, WE are the mob. WE can just stop being part of it.
So, why don’t we all learn from this and avoid commenting on these videos and news items that have to do with private citizens? Because these citizens read our comments. They really do. And they are crushing. Put yourselves in their shoes. Imagine yourself making that small mistake and having it caught on film. Imagine millions of people sending that much hate to your face, to your home, to your workplace. Imagine your children picking up the phone to psychopaths yelling at them. Do this before your bored self yearns to add ‘your two cents’. Do this before you over-personalize a situation that actually has nothing to do with you or your frustrations.
That’s how we stop this social media mob. We stop being one. (No one can stop the sociopathic haters and the moral equivocators- but they are the smaller minority.) I do hope and pray that enough people have seen this and have learned from it to make a real dent in the social media mob. I hope you join me in this prayer. And for those ladies who are still stalking me- get a life. geeze.