Something that gets noticed a lot is when people jump to conclusions right off the bat when it comes to breaking news. Even though not all of the information is out there or the situation hasn’t been fully evaluated yet, people always jump to a conclusion based off a few headlines. All humans are basically guilty of this, it’s part of human nature.
I’ve ran into a few different and odd situations where people’s conclusions put the people around them into rather dangerous situations. An example of this occurred with me several years ago when the auto industry in the US was bailed out. Around that time, I and a few of my college classmates were about to celebrate our 21st birthdays. Just for kicks, we took a trip down to a local bar in a busy part of town that had quite a few places in terms of nightlife. Since most of us lived far enough away that it would require someone to drive, one of us who was yet to be 21 had to drive us there, and from that place after we were done, we were planning on going to my apartment to finish studying for a midterm that was going to happen at the end of the week. Seeing that it was a Monday, the four of us doubted that the area was going to be packed, excluding a lot of frat/sorority people who never went to class and just spent their entire college career drunk.
So we picked a random bar, it was a sports bar, and it was nearly 6pm that afternoon when we went in there. As we expected, the place was rather empty, except for a few guys, one of which looked like your stereotypical redneck you’d see if you do a images search for “redneck”.
This place had quite a few television sets all over the place. The barkeeper had one of them on a broadcast TV station, one of your big four stations that do their 6pm local news and then their 6:30pm national newscast. I think this was NBC, a channel I couldn’t stand due to their views on file sharing and tech. Now that I think about it, I still can’t stand them.
So they go on about talking about the auto bailout, and how GM was going to be getting a ton of money to stay afloat. We were already sitting a few seats away from two of the redneck guys who looked like they were slightly buzzed or drunk already. I think they were construction workers or something. One of the redneck guys turned to us, and starts saying:
“Whoever disagrees with that bailout is supporting communism.”
Now, a rough definition of Communism is as follows: An economic system where the state controls the means of production. The United States doesn’t technically fit that definition, the opposite system is a Lessie-faire (free-market) system in which the state doesn’t manage any means of economic function, except for levying taxes. The United States isn’t a total free-market system but isn’t a communist system either as regulations and restrictions on certain functions exist. One of my friends at this bar had this going on in his head and decided to rebuke the redneck guy.
If I recall, his comment was something like: “Um, that’s not communism. The government owning shares in a company and having a controlling stake is more communism than isn’t.”
This redneck guy immediately flips his lid and gets angry. Next thing that happened is the guy is pointing a handgun at us, starting to yell at us about how we were communists and kids don’t know anything about how the world works. At that point, I think all of us were nervous we’d get shot by this drunk guy and that would be the end. The guy behind the bar though had a different reaction. Before anyone could react, he jumped the bar and ripped the gun away from the guy and pointed it back at the redneck’s head. Later we’d learn the guy was an ex-navy seal or something like that who also taught MMA fighting on the side besides his bartending job. While the drunk was stuck in that chokehold with his own gun pointing to his head, the bartender decided to give him an lecture on economics. The police arrived about twenty minutes later and arrested the guy.
So what does this story have to do with overreactions?
It seems that lately, there’s always a social media outrage with people having a mob mentality jumping to conclusions before all facts are known. A good example is that one dentist who traveled to Africa to go hunting, following all laws even with a guide and killed a lion. Even though it seems that is acceptable on that side of the world on what he did, the rest of society in the west decided to grab pitchforks and do everything they can to destroy that guys reputation with comments like “how dare you kill that animal”. This has been happening more and more it seems and it seems only a matter of time before some people get so numb to the outrage that they will cycle outrage mobs as much as they can to cause even more issues. This can even possibly start causing loss of life the way it’s going.
This is something I kind of want to follow more going into the future as this has gotten more and more common with the growing presence of social media. Maybe it’ll be story worthy.