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.