Think about the stupid shit you did in high school. Now imagine all of those shenanigans being broadcasted to the world, which you will be held responsible for your entire life, despite a thing called maturing and change.
Welcome to the digital age!
I am fortunate enough to have barely missed the social media age while I was a teenager and in my early-20s, but millions of innocent children and young adults are not so lucky. Take Alabama teenager Breanna Mitchell for example.
She’s the one taking the selfie at Auschwitz in the above picture. Long story short, she posted it on Twitter and vigilante justice crusaders came out with torches and pitchforks, determined to ruin a teenager’s life. Ironically, these purveyors of justice believe they have the higher moral ground by doing so. However, they forgot one tiny thing that most trained journalists (not these amateur bloggers) are taught to seek out…
It turns out that Breanna and her father have been studying the Holocaust together. According to Breanna, it was one of the few school subjects that actually interested her, so her supporting father read up on the Holocaust with her. The father/daughter duo made long-term plans to take a trip to Auschwitz. This year, Breanna finally got to go. Her father did not. He died last year, unable to make the highly anticipated trip.
The smile was the joy of a teenager finally going somewhere overseas where she had dreamed about going. Granted, no one actually dreamt about going to Auschwitz, but her yearning came from a place of fascination and genuine interest. Despite the historical context of the geographical location, the present day context of a teenage girl is what the picture displays.
Internet social enforcement officers do not give a shit about context. Let’s take a look at some Gawker commentators, notorious for being leaders against people who post meaningless, harmless tweets.
Yup. People out there honestly believe that a lifelong sentence of unemployment and being ridiculed is a punishment proportionate to the damage done by the selfie (which is ZERO, by the way). Even with the picture taken out of context (a girl smiling at Auschwitz because whatever), this is a FUCKING TEENAGER DOING STUPID TEENAGER THINGS. I did far worse things than this almost on a weekly basis, and so did most teenagers. To hope for impending doom because of this reveals one’s lack of understanding, intelligence and compassion.
More importantly, it reveals one’s hypocrisy. Before jumping on the hate bandwagon anytime someone posts something questionable on the Internet, ask yourself these questions: “Have I done something similar or worse? How would I respond if the Internet campaigned against me if that went viral?” If we were all to be honest, almost 100% of us have done something FAR worse than this. Should you be fired for it? Should you endure lifelong ridicule? No? Then SHUT THE FUCK UP!
Here’s another Gawker comment:
It starts off on that right track, but in Gawker fashion, derails into racism against white people. Yes, racism can exist against whitey…it happens DAILY over at Gawker. She smiled not because of the context of the trip or even because she is a naïve teenager (like we all were). Nope. She smiled because white people can’t understand pain and suffering. If that comment were to be made about any other race, heads would be rolling. The commenter then goes on to make a baseless assumption on this girl’s dead father. Classy.
The great thing about this particular case is that it has highlighted how fucking judgmental we are. Even worse, we rush to those judgments by jumping to conclusions that are based on nothing more than an image…no facts, no research, no context. In the court of law you are innocent until proven guilty, and only by facts and evidence can you be punished. However, in the Wild Wild West of the Internet, we shoot first and never ask questions later. What a shitty world to live in.
Fortunately for Breanna, we also have incredibly short attention spans. No one will remember this in a week. Based on the outrage of the Internet, this should be headline news. But it’s not. It isn’t going to withstand the test of time because Internet outrage is more fake than Pamela Anderson’s tits. At least Pam’s tits never attempted to ruin someone’s life…just every sock I ever owned as a young teenager.
As you will see in the video below (disregard the fact that Meghan McCain is a host), Breanna never backed down and apologized, and for that, I salute her. Keep fighting the good fight, Breanna. You made it out of Auschwitz alive, so you can definitely survive this.