He begins with a series of case studies. There is Jonah Lehrer, a pushy young pop science writer in the Malcolm Gladwell mould whose career was all but destroyed when it was discovered he had invented a quote; there is Justine Sacco, who made a bad-taste Twitter joke about Africa and Aids and, when it went viral, lost her job in PR; and, most upsetting of all, there is Lindsey Stone, a US careworker who was promptly sacked when a private photograph of her goofing around in Arlington National Cemetery suddenly became public and she was accused of “disrespect”. […] All these people’s punishments by far outweighed the gravity of their so-called crimes. […] But why should this be? Alas, their tormentors suffer from a peculiarly 21st-century disease. Beneath every stone Ronson lifts there hunkers a scuttling crowd of people who want nothing more in life than to be offended. Offence, for this lot, is not a straightforward emotional response, instinctive and heartfelt. It’s a choice, something they actively seek.

– Rachel Cooke, “Think Before You Tweet,” The Guardian, March 15, 2015.


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