Anonymous asked: I am curious to hear what you think about UNL-Haters, a tumblr dedicated to posting screen captures of Husker undergraduates' racist or homophobic tweets. There is also an OSU version as well. Do you think pointing out the racism or homophobia can help change attitudes? Or is it simply a reminder of how social media can showcase undergraduates' ignorance?
I’ll begin by saying that I didn’t know this Tumblr existed, though apparently it’s been around for a couple of weeks now. Once I learned about it, from this anonymous message, the next step involved hoping that none of the racist or homophobic tweets were written by students in my class.
So, now, what do I think of the concept?
As someone who has previously gathered up racist tweets or status updates and posted them for all to see, I’m not going to find much fault with it. It might be embarrassing to the undergraduates who wrote the racist or homophobic tweets, but I haven’t heard a compelling argument about why they shouldn’t be embarrassed. Indeed, my hope is that the embarrassment (or threat of embarrassment) will eventually lead fewer and fewer people to feel comfortable about posting this sort of thing online.
I’m not surprised that people believe these things, and I’m not even surprised that they publish them online with their names and photos attached — though I used to be. The idea that the youth of America are much more enlightened than their parents on these matters doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. But the fact that websites like this one exist might begin to impress upon young people that there are consequences to the publication of your racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and the like. One such consequence is that people might learn something about you that they don’t like.
Now, if you don’t want people to look askance at you for the racist things you’ve written, maybe you’ll think twice before writing them. And maybe, while you’re thinking twice, you’ll start to wonder why people would look askance at you for writing something you thought was funny. And then you might even start to question whether the thing you wanted to write is actually funny at all.
And then, just like that, we’re making progress.