Tracker Pixel for Entry

​When Facebook attacks

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Say Anything | July 22nd, 2015

Here's something to make you think about how you use social media.

On Thursday night last week I found myself talking to a man who told me that I’d made his mother cry.

The man was Fargo resident Kirk Ludwig, who found himself the target of hundreds of Facebook comments calling him a pervert and suggesting he be arrested and even physically harmed. The reason I made his mother cry was because she saw me defending her son on Chris Berg’s 6:30 Point of View program on Fargo’s KVLY television station.

“I wanted to thank you,” Ludwig told me. “Nobody else was sticking up for me.”

The genesis for this controversy was Ludwig’s decision to spend a weekday lunch hour in Fargo’s Island Park snapping some pictures near the public pool. Ludwig is a photography enthusiast who says he sometimes even gets paid to take pictures, but that day he was confronted by a man who accused him of photographing women and children in the park and demanded to see his camera.

That man, who I also spoke with, was Jed Felix. He told me he was convinced that Ludwig was acting inappropriately. After taking photographs of his own of Ludwig’s face and vehicle, Felix posted them on Facebook with an angry comment, saying he told Ludwig he would “smash his camera” if he continued taking pictures.

Felix then said he went to a movie with his wife only to come out a couple of hours later to find that his post had gone viral.

It was shared over 4,500 times and garnered hundreds of comments from people assuming the worst of Ludwig’s actions. They called him names. They suggested he was a sex predator. They suggested that he be beaten up. Even a law enforcement officer got in on the hate.

“Somebody should have stomped his guts out,” Clay County (Moorhead) Deputy Jason Hicks wrote. Hicks is currently under investigation by his department for the comment.

But here’s the thing: Out of all the people who were outraged by the supposed threat to public safety represented by Ludwig, not one of them called the police.

Felix confronted Ludwig about 1 p.m. The timestamp on Felix’s Facebook post was 1:13 p.m. The police weren’t alerted to the situation until around 4 p.m. according to Fargo Deputy Chief Joe Anderson.

The person who finally contacted law enforcement? Kirk Ludwig, who, as you can probably imagine, was absolutely terrified that he had become the target of a digital lynch mob.

Think about that for a moment. Out of all the people on social media who thought Ludwig was enough of a public threat to be arrested, or maybe even beaten on the spot, not one person thought to actually, you know, call the police.

Except for Ludwig himself, who didn’t break any laws in that park, though that didn’t stop Fargo Police, perhaps swayed by the heavy social media reaction, from banning him from park property anyway on legally dubious grounds.

This sort of thing has become all too common in our society.

We have democratized communication, which means that one needn’t be a television reporter or a newspaper editor to share news and opinions with a mass audience. That’s a good thing in many ways. This humble observer makes a very good living writing for an online audience.

Yet there is a dark side as well.

Social media has become something of an outrage machine, a place we go to satisfy a morbid and perverse desire to be made angry about things so that we may exercise indignant and self-righteous attitudes. We forget that we often aren’t getting the full story, or even an accurate story, and that the people or groups we are inveighing against are human beings with lives and families and a right to be treated justly.

By the time I spoke to Ludwig, two days after his run-in with Felix, he told me that he had been suspended from his day job and that the controversy was putting a strain on his marriage.

That’s a travesty, and there’s a lesson in it for all of us.

Think before you share. Try to understand before you judge.

RECENTLY IN

Say Anything

Recently in:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Savanna’s Act passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate on Friday and will move to the U.S. House of Representatives.The bill, S. 1942, is named for Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band…

Culture

Drink n’ Destroy

by Logan Macrae

Pixeled is every 1980’s nerd’s wet dream. This is the kind of place that you sat in your parent’s basement and dreamt about. Contemplating what college might look like, and through your braced teeth, you took a wheezy breath,…

Saturday, December 15th, 3-6pmJunkyard Brewing Company, 1416 1st Ave N, MoorheadCome bare the elements with us for a good cause. Bring your spare winter gear to be donated to Churches United for the Homeless. Coats, gloves, boots,…

by Josh Boscheejoshua.boschee@yahoo.comphoto courtesy of Mitch MarrEight words that perfectly describe the beautiful spirit of Kim Winnegge."I have given my whole life to words."Those of us who knew her remember these words as a…

Gadfly

Affluenza

by Ed Raymond

What happens if conspicuous consumption becomes global?The latest National Geographic has an editorial “The Global Peril of Inequality” by UCLA Professor Jared Diamond which the entire world should read. The author of many…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

by Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comUs North Dakotans love our Knoephla soup. I am no exception. I have fond childhood memories of sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen making this dumpling soup. From then until today, my taste buds go…

Music

Snow and Flurry

by HPR Contributor

by Jacques Harvieux jacquesthejock@gmail.comMosh pit etiquette 101: The mosh pit is located front and center of the stage.Create a sizeable ring.When the music starts unleash mayhem. If you fall - get up immediately.If somebody…

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” director Marielle Heller beautifully translates another personal autobiography to excellent results. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is based on the confessional 2008 memoir of literary forger Lee…

SEBEKA, Minnesota – Nearly a century ago the nation was racked by inclement weather, soaring unemployment, and despair following World War I and the lucrative Roaring 20s. The 1930s were an era of dust storms and lunch lines,…

by Ryan Jankeryan.janke78@gmail.comFargo-Moorhead Community Theatre presents “A Christmas Story: The Musical” which is underway at the Stage at Island Park and will run through December 22. It has been promoted as a show both…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comphotography by Logan MacraeEver wish you could go to your favorite brewery without leaving your house? Finally, you can (sort of). Kilstone Brewing is now doing limited can releases of some…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

“(Søren) Kierkegaard…has opened our eyes to the shallowness of much of our pseudo-Christian life, and to the outright deception in politics which Christianity has been made to serve.” - William Hubben“The people starve…