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Sexism, Twitter and Lynch Mobs

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Many people fail to consider the consequences of 140 characters.

Twitter is a fantastic tool for communication; it highlights the best of human nature but also the worst. The Internet in general is no different but few other communication methods are so instant that our brains lack the opportunity and time necessary to contemplate the consequences of what is spilling from our fingertips. Nor do many others distribute what we have written so publically.

There is a back story to this so first some context.

Over the past week a few female web professionals have written about some negative experiences of being women in the web industry. In the past these kinds of posts have focused on inequality, sexism and sexual objectification. These often contain grey areas where at times I’ve found opinions that I disagree with.

But this round of posts has taken things up a level into sexual harassment. Where these claims are true then it’s pretty black and white and such actions cannot be condoned.

One such post made reference to a web celebrity, for want of a better term, who had been harassing her. The post didn’t name the person but left enough clues that most people could guess and then they did later tweet the person directly. My post isn’t about adding fuel to the fire so if you want to find out who’s involved then happy hunting.

Instead I’ll be condemning the actions of people who stoked the flames of the following shit storm. I will not however condemn the accused or the accuser.

Our justice system is based on the fact that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Yet in our society and our media the opposite is much more prevalent. This played out on Twitter as the mob made their final judgement without allowing the accused to first defend himself. He instead dropped of twitter after making a short statement.

Whether he is innocent or not the actions of people on Twitter cannot be seen as the example for how a modern justice system or even how a modern society should work. We simply do not have all the facts available to say with 100% certainty what happened and even if he is guilty what impact does such focused hate have on those friends and family around him.

I admit I’ve maybe been guilty of saying, writing or sending stuff without first thinking but we learn as we go. Though I can hold an opinion on this subject I understand that my getting involved has no positive effect whatsoever. The old saying goes if you have nothing good to say then say nothing at all.

It’s unfortunate that this perception of anonymity that the Internet affords only works to heighten the dickish tendencies of these people that love a good lynch mob. And to be honest what I’m really trying to say is that people should really stop getting involved in shit that has nothing to do with them; especially when their actions could do more harm than the act they’ve actually taken offense with in the first place.