NEW YORK — The killing of Cecil the Lion give us just the latest example of Social media’s wrath.
So outraged, so quick to act as our society’s judge and jury, is this entity affectionately known as “The Internet” that lives can be upended not over the course of days or weeks, but minutes.
Minnesota dentist Dr. Walter Palmer is finding that out first hand, as a fiery trail of public shaming makes it way from online posts, to the front door of his practice and back online.
The question we are asking tonight, is the damage of public shaming in the age of social media temporary, or permanent?
Fortune 500 companies call social media consultant Peter Shankman for help with their strategy.
Shankman says in the case of a Midwest dentist who reportedly paid f$50,000 to hunt the beloved, living embodiment of Simba and Mufasa, the damage is long term at the very least.
“We’ve always been a mob justice society. And we’ve become a more mob justice society with the internet. In the thirties, we would chase people down in the street. Today, we’re doing it online,” said Shankman.
But there is hope.
Remember Justine Sacco?
She’s the public relations specialist who, in 2013, thought it funny to tweet, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
She immediately lost her job, and became “The Internet’s” number one villain.
But fast forward a couple of years, and the author of a recent New York Times article writes of Sacco,
“I asked her to meet me one final time to update me on her life. Her response was speedy. “No way.” She explained that she had a new job in communications, though she wouldn’t say where. She said, “Anything that puts the spotlight on me is a negative.”
The final chapter of the Cecil and Dr. Palmer, is still being written. Right now, it’s not looking good.