MRU student faces backlash after online video
Hallway argument turns viral
By Amber McLinden, Staff Writer
Our parents always warned us – the internet is permanent. Twenty years ago, if someone had yelled at a guy for wearing a hat supporting a controversial politician, it wouldn’t have warranted any attention. Yet in today’s society, where the concept of “viral” exists, and when people feel obliged to document their every move, a problem arises.
A video went viral from the halls of Mount Royal University, when Zoe Slusar demanded a student remove his “Make America Great Again” hat. The conversation, which was filmed by another individual, has been posted to Youtube and subsequently garnered over 240,000 views.
Slusar’s name is all over the internet. A quick look at the Facebook search bar will tell you that upwards of 54,000 people are talking about her, and it isn’t slowing down. But likely the worse part of going viral over an incident like this is the death threats. You heard right – Slusar has received death threats via social media and directly to her home, she told CBC early last week.
“There are endless messages just telling me to kill myself, calling me every name anyone could ever be called, insulting any of the groups that might classify themselves as minorities and saying they are lesser and should die with me,” she said to CBC.
“And death threats, people saying they can’t wait to kill me, they can’t wait to have me not on the planet and terrible insults about people of colour and anyone of different sexual orientation. It’s shocking.”
Slusar is only one of many victims of internet mobs. In fact, stories similar to hers emerge constantly. Justine Sacco, a PR executive from New York, tweeted an insensitive joke about travelling to Africa. In another age, a similar statement might have warranted a few angry friends. In today’s world, the tweet gets picked up by Buzzfeed, goes viral on Twitter and prompts the trending hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. Despite a public apology, she lost her job.
Internet culture fosters a mob mentality. If one person is attacking someone, it must be okay for everybody to do it as well. It doesn’t stop, because once something goes viral, it’s permanent, and the internet has global reach. In 2015, a book was published about the phenomenon by British journalist Jon Ronson, titled “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” Social media plays a much bigger part in the lives of students than it ever has before. Slusar now has to live with the consequences of going viral.
Be careful of your public conversations, you never know what will be uploaded to the internet.