The owner of Twelve Rounds Brewing Co. may not be the first person in America to regret popping off on Facebook, but in East Sacramento this week, he is certainly the best known.
“I am disgusted at all of the people and politicians that supported this anti-Trump event,” he impulsively posted, and it sounds cathartic.
Still, not a wise move for a guy trying to sell beer to hipsters in the capital of the bluest state of the nation.
Faced with a blizzard of online dissent, Murphy and his wife hastily posted again, begging forgiveness from the local beer community, which could see more of his page than he apparently realized. Unfortunately, they also could see his past comments disparaging Muslims and calling Barack Obama a traitor.
So now – like the “Saturday Night Live” writer suspended last week for tweeting that President Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son “will be this country’s first homeschool shooter” – Murphy is experiencing the dark side of free expression in this age of social media and social media backlash.
Never has shooting one’s mouth off in public been so effortless or tempting. And never has a slip of the tongue been so potentially hazardous to one’s livelihood.
Just for the record, we are up to here with the Trump camp’s hostility and lies, and its habit of bullying the weak and then claiming victim status. Similarly, we have zero patience for adults of any political bent who disparage children, including children of presidents.
That said, though, Americans might find common ground in contemplating the ways in which technology has challenged our ability to be civil.
It has only been about a decade since Facebook expanded from a Harvard University site to include the general public. Friendster and MySpace, its predecessors, have only been around, respectively, since 2002 and 2003. Twitter was founded in 2006.
If it were a human being, social media would still be an adolescent. That may be one reason scholars have associated communication on it with decreased inhibition. Studies show that online communication actually makes us less aware of others’ humanity.
This is unfortunate for less sophisticated users – which is to say, most of us – since the business models of these sites have quietly evolved in ways that make what we say on them more and more public.
Users who don’t take the time and care to restrict and constantly monitor their privacy settings may as well be opining on a freeway billboard. Adolescents now learn this in high school. Not so adults, who often don’t realize they’ve overshared until it is too late.
The 2016 campaign was more divisive than any in our lifetime, and, like money in politics, social networking has amplified coalitions and divisions. Raise your hand if you had to block or unfriend someone in recent months just because you were sick of watching them insult your other friends’ politics.
Seventy percent of voters told a Monmouth University poll in September that this year’s presidential race had brought out the worst in people. Given this president’s habit of unburdening himself with mean tweets, that’s not likely to change much, though we still hold out some hope that first lady Melania Trump will make good on her promise to campaign against online bullying.
But the folks angered by Twelve Rounds’ Murphy might consider taking him up on his offer to participate in an old-fashioned beer summit. We hear eye contact and conversation can foster some amazing connections. Not on Facebook. Just face-to-face.
Editor’s note: Editorials from other newspapers are offered to stimulate debate and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune.