Justine Sacco & the Jungle

Justine Sacco & the Jungle

There used to be a time when people graduated high school/secondary school and ripped their books to shreds as their way of saying ‘Thank God i don’t have to deal with the meanies anymore’ but social media has debunked that. Looks like the mean girls (& boys) will always be a click away, waiting for one picture or in Justine Sacco’s case-one tweet.

A tweet she posted last Friday just before getting on a 12 hour flight to South Africa. Perhaps she had been stressed out by TSA or she was looking forward to the visit to South Africa which she claims, is her father’s country.

This is the awkward tweet:

 “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Let’s examine it.

Going to Africa. O.k (I always wish people would be more specific about that though. It makes me suspect that they believe Africa is a country)

Hope I don’t get AIDS. mmmmm. Cos Aids just floats about like a cloud or like rain, falling on the rich and poor alike.

Just Kidding. Yup!

I’m white. This is the part i can’t get over. ‘I’m white’ like i know better and am far too advanced to get the disease

‘I’m white‘ like AIDS is a ‘Black people’ disease

or ‘I’m white’ like Lemme make fun of deluded white people who think AIDS is a respecter of colour and race.

She had become the trending topic within the 12 hours she spent in the air and by the time the plane landed, Ms. Sacco was already unemployed.

She was a PR executive for the Internet giant InterActive Corp., which owns popular websites like Match.com, Dictionary.com, and Vimeo. We could just lay the blame at the feet of a company like that for not picking up on Justine Sacco’s delusions about AIDS?

In my opinion I think it was craven on InterActive Corp.’s part to bow to the twitter pressure and fire her before she got off that plane. I think it was rash and very unprofessional. I know PR in America is considered a very on-the-spot, spontaneous industry but as long as employment laws are the same then there should have been some kind of communication between her and her employers.

There’s something utterly crude about the Jungle Justice that social media has become. All it takes is a # and anything could happen ranging from death threats to friends outing you completely.

Yes Justine Sacco should be ashamed. If not for the tweet but for the even more offensive apology which helped me come to a decision that we are dealing with someone really deluded in this case.

This is the apology:

“Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet.

There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country (S.A), that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.

For being insensitive to this crisis — which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly — and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed.”

Where do i start from with this apology?

Pick and choose.

Trending hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet and parody account @LOLJustineSacco appeared on Twitter after Sacco sent the tweet. A fake Facebook account under her name was also created, where a post links to http://www.justinesacco.com, which brings up a donation page for Aid for Africa.

This is what InterActive Corp had to say to ABC News Saturday distancing itself from the tweet and saying the employee was fired.

“There is no excuse for the hateful statements that have been made and we condemn them unequivocally,we hope, however, that time and action, and the forgiving human spirit, will not result in the wholesale condemnation of an individual who we have otherwise known to be a decent person at core.”

This incident and that of the Duck Dynasty suspension makes me believe that all this technology might be bringing out the mob in all of us. It has made it easier to be part of a faceless mob hurling stones at the accused than it is to just stand on your own, pick a side and stay true to it. What will happen when every organization and every group bows to the pressure of faceless teens who probably don’t know half the story?

Is Social Media killing the right to freedom of speech?

How long before before the jungle swallows everything up and we are just cowards cowering in the face of internet bullies?

Some people are calling Ms. Sacco a casual racist while others accuse her of playing the victim. To each his own but it is clearly time for everyone to realize that if you’re going to have an opinion then it better be good or else you might get called out on it, big time.


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