By Patrick Brogan
Is trial by media a bad thing? Yes, due process is one of the fundamental qualities a democracy needs. However, a ready supply of information is just as important and citizen journalism through social media provides just that. We likely never would have known about the incident on United Airlines if it wasn’t for those recording it on their phones and then posting it on social media.
Many people are concerned about the invasive nature of the Internet and the impact it has on privacy. But, we also have to take the rough with the smooth. The pblic knowing about wrongdoing such as this is a case in point. Companies now have to be wary of how they treat their customers, where as before they didn’t give a shit.
This should also highlight worrying trends in relation to censorship and the Internet. There have been calls to shut down what is branded as fake news on the web. The biggest exponent of fake news is the mainstream media. It is not in politicians’ best interest to call them out, so on it goes, unchecked. Surely, it is up to people to decide what is real and fake, not a government.
The backlash for United Airlines has been far reaching and varies between scorn and ridicule. They deserve both. Whatever about the character involved, he certainly did not deserve such harsh treatment. And now the world is aware of what happened. Undoubtedly this story is more complicated then what I’m reporting on and there may be a few twists and turns in the narrative yet, but ultimately, United have a duty of care to their customers and they fell way short of providing that.
This is also the result of post-9/11, zero-tolerant world we live in. Compassion and understanding are seen as weakness and have been replaced by obedience and submission. This is where this society leads to. Individuals cannot even board a flight in comfort and the company responsible gets millions wiped off the stock exchange. What a fearful, complicated world we live in.
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