I’ve been on Twitter having conversations with people about this whole “Bagel Boss” incident. If you don’t know what it is, simply, a man had a complete freak breakdown in a bagel shop, someone recorded it and posted it on Twitter and the Twitter-verse did it’s thing and mocked him, bullied him further and… well it just went down the rabbit hole from there…
Now, in all fairness, he did freak out in a public place. Regardless of how it started, he screamed about how he had a difficult time dating because he’s short and he seemed hell-bent on saying how “all women” were the same and mean. He thought the women there were secretly hating on him, though they did seem to be just going about their business.
I watched it and winced the entire time. At one point, someone – maybe a manager – tackled him to the ground. I’m no lawyer or law enforcement, but it seemed appropriate. He was full of rage and pretty explosive. But what happened next, is difficult to wrap my head around.
Someone recorded it, of course, and posted it on Twitter. And then Twitter went to town mocking him, bullying him – making fun of him. I called a few people out – people I actually respect on Twitter for reposting the recording and they diligently justified, without skipping a beat, why they thought it was fine to repost it, mock and bully him.
Here’s the point I’ve been making all night: when someone gets a bunch of guns and walks into a school and kills people — we’re all stunned. We’re saddened and “tweeting” for something more than “thoughts and prayers” to be done. By then though, it’s too late.
Mental Illness always comes up.
“Why didn’t anyone help him?”
“How could no-one have noticed he was so upset?”
The Twitter-verse is then filled with all the compassionate people who would have known if it was their neighbor, their family member, if their friend was in trouble.
But, here in this moment, in full display is clearly a man in pain. He’s suffering. And what do all the people in the store and everyone online do? Bully him further.
Surely, he was out-of-line and absolutely inappropriate. He did get kicked out of the store and rightfully so. But what happens when this man, clearly distraught goes home and sees he’s being mocked on Twitter? What happens when a fragile human being who clearly hasn’t dealt with some issues notices his own outburst on his Twitter feed and reads what everyone is saying?
We’ve lost our ability to be compassionate. More importantly, we’ve lost our ability to connect the dots. Someone in that much pain, is about to burst. Clearly he’s calling out for help. Instead of instigating the situation, wouldn’t it have been amazing if someone had offered him some help instead? A bit of kindness.
Now, I’m not saying everyone who has an outburst is going to go grab a gun and kill people – but that’s kind of irrelevant, isn’t it? I mean we don’t really ever understand why people do these things – but regardless, shouldn’t we be better people? Shouldn’t our humanity keep us from harming someone else even further? Is there really some sort of joy in watching someone in so much pain?
I think what I’m most upset about this evening, is all the people who replied to me being upset that I called them out on their own behavior. Instead of just admitting they might have made a mistake, they then tried to make it about how he deserved to be mocked for acting so badly. They found ways to justify their bullying. It was sad actually.
I believe that our true character, the true test of who we are is not measured when things are going perfectly well. It doesn’t matter that you have compassion AFTER a massacre – that’s expected. In tragedy, it is expected that people will come together and help each other. That’s how most humans behave, that’s how most humans survive. But the true test of who we are is really measured when things are hard. How do we behave when it’s not easy? Do we show courage when no one is looking? Can we see pain and react accordingly even when everyone else is bullying? Can we stop being part of the mob-mentality? Can we even see it happening?
I hope that guy figures it out. My prayer, my wish for him tonight is that he has a loving family or great friends that saw what happened online and intervened to walk him through.
I just hope he’s not alone.
And for people on Twitter and social media in general – I pray that we do better – and that we err on the side of compassion. That we find a way to be better than we used to be.