The world has been focused on tragedies- both natural and man-made (though sometimes I like to think of wars as natural tragedies, because Mother Nature really wasn’t so kind as to bring forth humans who like to slaughter fellow humans cold-bloodedly in the name of jostling for power and control) – but one human being, hitherto on an easy-ride of posting stupid comments, has found herself competing for headline space with the said calamities and human oddities.
Justine Sacco must be having a nightmare for Christmas, and she will want to wake up so quickly from this horrific trance after she tweeted on Friday, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Her stupid, racist joke (ignorant, too, if I may add, since she implies that she can’t catch HIV/AIDS because she is white) quickly went viral and invited quite a ‘whipping’, with users of Social Media bringing out their daggers of ridicule with this, in what Huffington Post calls “a slew of backlash across the internet”.
Unfortunately for her, it will not go away as quickly as she would like it to. As I write this, she is being referred to as a ‘former PR Executive’. It is not the kind of title you want to return home to after days or weeks of warm, tropical carousal in Africa.
I empathise with her on that ground, and, without seeing cause for delight in her plight following the deluge of comments chastising her for the post, and her being fired by her employer, I would like to wish her a quick recovery from that horrible experience, as she learns what might be her biggest lesson in life. She will need a lot of counselling, too, and if she has friends (she surely isn’t so horrible as to have no friends, is she?) they will have to be there for her and her daughter.
Huffington Post reports that Sacco apologized on Sunday in a statement provided to ABC:
“Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet. There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.”
Out of excitement, and without a second thought, we often find ourselves posting comments on Social Media, perhaps even thinking our comments will be completely innocuous. For some people, like Donald Trump, there is no price to pay, and they can say anything and get away with it. If you are in a position of responsibility, a public figure or associated with an image or brand of a company/organisation, it can be very costly.