When you write something and put it out into the world, you can’t control how people will receive it. That being said, there have been some oddball responses to my blog post yesterday.
A condensed version of my intent might be:
Here are two examples of verbal abuse on social media that cross the line. No one deserves this kind of treatment. Social media has amplified this kind of behavior. How can we change this?
Some people who read the post seem to have gotten my point. Others went off in all directions.
The SMOB shouldn’t have a vote!
There isn’t any abuse. I haven’t seen any.
Those Republicans are terrible.
Of course, readers are permitted to believe any of these things. That’s outside of my control. But the conversation about how we treat each other on social media largely fell by the wayside. Some interesting “logic” surfaced along the way, however.
Some folks seemed to be saying that the reason the SMOB received such unacceptable treatment was because he had a vote, and/or used it in a way they didn’t like. To me this seems a bit too much like someone telling the woman with a black eye that, if only she hadn’t burned the dinner, her husband wouldn’t have beaten her.
Whether the SMOB has a vote is truly a separate issue from abusive behavior on social media. When you link the two you appear to suggest that Mr. Koung is somehow responsible for his own abuse. I reject this.
To those who read my post and said “there’s no abuse”: thanks for calling me a liar. This doesn’t bother me much. People who know me know I wouldn’t post without proof. The rest are rather like drive-by bashers.
I wasn’t particularly interested in dragging local Republicans in relation to my post, though some were quick to do so. It wasn’t the point of my post. Again, if that’s a conversation people want to have, that’s fine. I do wonder if people will manage that without descending into the kind of toxic behavior that got us here in the first place.
Probably the most odd-ball thing that happened as a result of my post was that County Council member David Yungmann showed up online and publicly accused me of attacking him. When pressed, he admitted he hadn’t even read my post. So, he actually had no idea what was going on, called me out by name, and when he learned he was wrong, did not have the good grace to apologise.
Until that very moment Mr. Yungmann hadn’t been a central figure in my concerns. But the way he inserted himself was rather troubling when you realize he’s on the County Council. I’m not sure how I feel about a public servant who gets angry and jumps in without all the facts. It’s not a good look.
To sum up: yesterday was an interesting day to be a blogger. And I still think we need to care a lot about toxic online behavior.