If the United deplaning incident happened a few years ago, it’s unlikely anyone other than the plane’s passengers would know about it. Sexual harassment lawsuits against Bill O’Reilly go back more than a decade, but you likely became aware of them only recently. Today, in our always-recording and always-sharing society, events likes these can’t be so easily swept under the rug; especially if they become a topic of interest (and more often, a magnet for a weird sort of hilarious meme-driven rage) among the social media masses that can almost instantaneously morph into a modern manifestation of mob rule — with verdicts decided and sentences doled out a hundred and forty characters at a time. As WaPo’s Kathleen Parker explains: The Twitter mob serves a purpose. Bill O’Reilly and United prove it. “What is true today is that social media has become the church lady and the party-line operator rolled into one. If somebody misbehaves, not just two people know about it. Within hours or minutes, millions do. Like a single organism endowed with the accumulated moral fortitude of human society, Twitter demands justice.” And that all sounds perfectly reasonable. Unless you don’t agree with people on Twitter (and who could imagine that?). It’s interesting that in real life, most of us will do anything to get out of jury duty. But online, we’ve all been more than happy to accept a lifetime appointment.
+ The pressure of the online mob can be trying, even for those who are used to battling it out in the public arena. Last night, Bill O’Reilly abruptly announced that he’s taking a vacation. (It reminds me of the vacation Bill Murray’s character took in What About Bob?)