Careful, “covidiots.” You’re being watched, you’re being judged, and there’s a decent chance that somewhere on social media, you’re being shamed.
Venturing out in public these days without a face mask or with a less-than-perfect sense of personal space has never been more likely to get you identified, labeled and publicly ridiculed. “Covidiot” is the insult of choice on Twitter, a mashup that takes the first part of its name from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The “FloridaMorons” hashtag was also popular before beaches were closed, gaining popularity again when northern beaches reopened but pre-quarantine pictures went viral.
Social media has given people an outlet to expose rule-breakers without getting in their faces.
Others have taken to Twitter and Instagram to post pictures of people standing in line or huddled in large groups without masks.
In Miami, Juan Patron, 48, found himself on the wrong end of an angry online mob after footage of a mid-April house party at his friend’s condo was posted online. Patron runs a Miami marketing firm and has been the subject of several glowing articles in the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and other online publications.
“We’re becoming like World War II,” he said. “Everybody’s reporting what their neighbors are doing.”
The problem with exposing wrongdoers online is that it can easily get out of hand, said internet safety expert Sue Scheff, author of “Shame Nation,” a book about online bullying.
“Occasionally, online shaming can be for a perceived ‘good cause,’ such as when Florida had to close their beaches after pictures quickly spread online of the spring breakers crowding the coast,” she said. “Do we really want to embrace a culture that tries and convicts our fellow citizens based on perceptions and slights, especially during times of hardship like these? Neighbors becoming judge and jury of their fellow neighbors? I don’t think so.”