We live in a complicated, often bizarre, world.
Last week we watched as the heartbreaking tale of Amanda Todd unfolded. First it appeared to be a case of a young person succumbing to peer-group bullying. Then it appeared that Amanda took her own life after falling prey to an organized online older sexual predator. By the end of this week, it was alleged that more individuals may have been involved. By tomorrow that could change yet again. But we are reassured knowing that the police are tenaciously investigating the case.
But we were shaken by what we witnessed this week when an online group 'outed' someone they thought was implicated in the Todd situation.
We watched as Anonymous - an online hacker group known for tracing and revealing private data - named an individual as Todd's persecutor and gave his supposed location (in neighbouring New Westminster). In minutes there was a virtual pile on with a potential threat to find the guy and do him bodily harm. Few questioned the information on the individual, and fewer still thought that it might be unwise to spread the information. We watched as the online mob grew.
As it turned out the individual did not live at the address now spread globally online. But he was still tracked down, and the mother of the young man named was understandably frightened for his safety and her family's safety. She said his siblings are now being tormented at school.
We don't know if the young man who was subjected to the online lynch mob helped push Amanda into a desperate and tragic act. But what we do know for sure is that there is something ugly and deeply troubling when people of usually sound minds jump on the "get 'em" bandwagon so easily.
Is it OK to bully the bullies? And then, where does it stop? But surely we are no better than the bullies for egging on any kind of behaviour that denies someone the right to explain themselves and be subject to a proper investigation.