Anne Applebaum, per The Atlantic, descrive le difficoltà di chi, per qualsiasi ragione, si trovi ad essere accusato aver infranto le regole dell’accettabilità sociale. Condanne rapide, sommarie e definitive da parte dell’opinione pubblica incidono drasticamente sulla vita di persone, con conseguenze pesanti per tutta la società nel suo complesso.
There are currently no laws that shape what academics or journalists can say; there is no government censor, no ruling-party censor. But fear of the internet mob, the office mob, or the peer-group mob is producing some similar outcomes. How many American manuscripts now remain in desk drawers—or unwritten altogether—because their authors fear a similarly arbitrary judgment? How much intellectual life is now stifled because of fear of what a poorly worded comment would look like if taken out of context and spread on Twitter?
L’articolo cita una dozzina fra accademici, giornalisti, e altre figure pubbliche che sono stati toccati dal fenomeno, descrivendolo in modo quasi enciclopedico e confrontandolo con altre forme di ostracismo, più strutturate, tipiche di governi autoritari del passato e del presente.
Here is the first thing that happens once you have been accused of breaking a social code, when you find yourself at the center of a social-media storm because of something you said or purportedly said. The phone stops ringing. People stop talking to you. You become toxic. “I have in my department dozens of colleagues—I think I have spoken to zero of them in the past year,” one academic told me. “One of my colleagues I had lunch with at least once a week for more than a decade—he just refused to speak to me anymore, without asking questions.” Another reckoned that, of the 20-odd members in his department, “there are two, one of whom has no power and another of whom is about to retire, who will now speak to me.”