Yesterday actor Mark Duplass tweeted a nice across the aisle ovature to the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro:
He was, as the kids say, ratioed. To be “ratioed” on Twitter means the replies to your tweet outnumber the folks who click the heart or retweet button; people don’t agree with you, and they are replying to say so.
The replies were predictable: Ben (an Orthodox Jew!) is a white supremacist, a racist, etc etc. We’ve all seen this movie before; Shapiro is conservative, and thus, the Worst. Person. Ever.
Disappointingly, Duplass deleted his tweet and made a new one this morning:
— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) July 19, 2018
Like many before him, Duplass has sent a very dangerous message to the social media mob: you have power, and your outrage will be rewarded with action.
The mob behaves a great deal like my children, and any parent can tell you, giving in is the worst decision a parent can make in the long term. Imagine your child crying for hours for a cookie, the worst possible thing you can do is, after they have begun the tantrum, to give in. That’s exactly what Duplass has done, and he has now signaled to the mob they decide not only what he tweets, but also who he can be friends with.
It’s not just about Ben Shapiro, either, as Shapiro himself points out:
So in 24 hours I apparently went from being a person with good intentions to a racist sexist bigot. Twitter toxifies any attempt to cross the aisle. There's no conservative Mark could have recommended who wouldn’t receive the same blowback. https://t.co/JEizw69eFH
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 19, 2018
Just as Duplass has now signaled to the mob that they have control over what he tweets and who he associates with, The Atlantic has showed the mob has control over its hiring decisions and Scarlett Johansson has shown the mob decides which movie roles she can play. What could possibly go wrong?
What is the endgame here? A total shutdown in communication across the political spectrum?
So how do you handle when an outrage mob strikes? I’ve had this experience several times over, most notably, ironically, for this column.
On Twitter, disingenious liberals will take a screenshot of the headline in order to paint me as an actual Nazi-sympathizer. It’s an interesting tactic to take against a woman who was on the ADL’s list of American journalists targeted by the alt-right during the 2016 election, but nobody has to be intellectually honest in their “gotcha” moments. It’s also a depressing sign of the times: I wrote a column with several successful examples of people using kindness to sway the hearts and minds of their opponents, and for that, I have been the subject of an outrage mob on just this column more times than I can count.
So how do I handle it? Very simple: I do not apologize. I send a link to the actual column for people to read for themselves. I make jokes “Thank you so much for being interested in my work, and for promoting this old but important column!” That usually makes them angrier, but it does show how irrational they are, especially for those who bother to read past the headline.
The mob is like a school of sharks, and showing any sign of weakness is like bloodletting into the water. You do not get into the water with as much as a papercut.