Pamela B. Paresky in Psychology Today:
Jordanian-American Natasha Tynes is an award-winning author who faced government prosecution in Egypt for her work defending free speech and a free press. In May, Tynes saw a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) worker eating on the train—something she understood to be prohibited for all riders. She asked the employee about it. The woman responded, “Worry about yourself.” Frustrated that she rides the Metro hungry in order to comply with the rules while someone she understood to have the power to ticket her for eating was not complying with the rules, herself, Tynes “tweet-shamed” the employee by writing a complaint to WMATA and posting it on Twitter along with a photo of the woman eating.
Horrible behavior? I’d say so. Disappointing to see someone behave that way? Sure. But in a world in which online shaming is the new norm, it’s not surprising. What is surprising is that less than 45 minutes after posting the tweet, Tynes deleted it, apologized for what she called a “short-lived expression of frustration,” and contacted WMATA to say it was an “error in judgment” for her to report the employee. She even asked that WMATA not discipline the employee.
But Twitter’s outrage machine turned on her. She became “Metro Molly.” The independent publishing company set to distribute her novel tweeted that Tynes had done “something truly horrible” and they had “no desire to be involved with anyone who thinks it’s acceptable to jeopardize a person’s safety and employment in this way.” Her publishing deal was canceled.
Does this seem like a high price to pay for a 45-minute lapse in judgment? Or even for acting like, well, a jerk?