Originally I was just going to post a link to Jon Ronson’s New York Times piece on the tendency of people on the Internet in general and Twitter in particular to pile on. His piece is mostly about Justine Sacco, who famously posted an offensive (and possibly widely misconstrued) tweet before her 11 hour flight took off, and landed to potentially the most epic pile on in recent memory.
I had lots of thoughts when reading the piece, but one of those thoughts was that Sam Biddle is an irresponsible jerk. In fact, when I was done reading the piece, I wanted to tweet that Sam Biddle is an irresponsible jerk. The truth is that I don’t know whether he’s a jerk or not, and my opinion of him and his work is ill-informed and irrelevant. I didn’t even read the Gawker posts that were referenced in the article, and yet I was eager to pile on Sam Biddle to call him out for piling on Justine Sacco. I’m not sure what impulse that would have satisfied, but it wasn’t a healthy one.
This week, everybody’s piling on Vivek Wadhwa. I can see why, too. I agree with just about everything everybody who’s piling on is saying. I don’t think it’s healthy, though. Stating your principles and defending them is difficult and meaningful. Joining a herd of people piling on the jerk of the day is cheap and easy. Let’s not.