The present observes social networking as the easiest way to connect with people and to spread thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. While opponents of this development continue to emphasize its potential dangers and negative implications on society, the last few years have witnessed the use of social media as an effective tool. It is this century’s forum for transformation be it social, political or religious. By using a single hashtag you can be part of a movement that can propagate real change in the world.
One such movement against racism has ensued with a blog, ‘Getting Racists Fired.’ This blog started sometime in November 2014 and encourages people to report racist comments made on social media by particular individuals. It then proceeds to provide information about their work place so that people can contact their employers. The ultimate goal of the blog is to report alleged racists and get them fired. Although the originality and purpose of the blog deserve commendation, it could be responsible for more damage than progressive change.
Since its inception the blog has attracted over 17,000 followers committed to posting anything racist that they might find on social networking websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, etc. One would think that they would report people based on their personal experiences or at least with sufficient prior research about the “racist” person’s background. However, the truth is a far cry from reasonable. A look at the blog will tell you that a lot of the posts are taken out of context. Many are just college kid rants against the rushing processes of fraternities and sororities. Various other posts insinuate racism in modern art and photography that was created to portray the discriminatory past of the United States and other countries in the first place. Other posts accuse people of being racist just because they made a racist joke online.
It is understandable that some people don’t find racist puns humorous at all. Strangely enough, the people who re-posted these jokes took offence from what was not directed at them to begin with. When asked, many students on campus freely acknowledged that many people make racist comments in good humor. Freshman criminal justice major, Brianna Jones, said, “I don’t believe that racist jokes are appropriate in any way. Yet, the people who post these racist comments should be allowed to articulate their feelings, no matter what those views are, with regard to the first amendment.” Evidently, the jocular comments on one’s profile in no way indicate one’s discriminatory actions towards those of another race. The fact remains that in many cases the re-posters on ‘Getting Racists Fired’ don’t even know the person they are openly targeting to get fired. They are just blindly stealing people’s way to sustain in life, without caring for the repercussions.
The most interesting part about the blog is the “moderator.” The blog has an appointed moderator to discuss whether or not a person is actually racist and whether or not the followers should email the person in question’s employer. Even more interesting is the way the name of the current moderator is presented on the blog, “Mod N, who is Black and Native.” This automatically gives an impression of the racist inclination of the blog itself.
It seems as if the blog is only appealing to a set of races, making the moderator’s objectivity and ultimate decision questionable. This is not to say that the blog hasn’t been successful in creating awareness among employers about their employees’ discriminatory opinions. There are a significant amount of issues that the blog points out. It urges employers to deeply analyze all candidates in the process of hiring to understand their opinions on social issues. Nevertheless, it seems detrimental to what a democratically equal society should stand for. It is legitimate for people to believe that the website’s sole purpose is not to locate racist people but to locate racist posts. Like Jones commented, “it reaches a point where it crosses the boundaries of using the freedom of expression, and is harming and harassing the individuals who post them.”
Reporting racism is a righteous act so long as it does not infringe on people’s right to freedom of expression. We all are aware that there is no room for mistakes on the World Wide Web because what is once uploaded is forever imprinted.
Regardless, people continuously post on social networking websites for all sorts of feelings as a way of catharsis. Frustrated individuals end up posting hate messages in the heat of a moment. It doesn’t mean that it is justified for them to post hateful things, but it also doesn’t mean that they deserve to have their jobs snatched away from them for having a rough day. After all, it only provokes a concrete bitterness towards the people who got them fired. Therefore, in a way the blog is giving people a reason to hate someone, some group or some race altogether. Surely, the intention behind the creation of the blog was noble, but its implications are proving to be rather deplorable.
Kamakshi Dadhwal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org