Why no one will learn the lessons from "Citi Bike Karen" fiasco
It started simply enough. A video on social media that was framed in such a way to show a white woman giving a young black man a hard time.
Unsurprisingly, the internet erupted.
How dare this Karen argue with this guy about who actually had the right to use that bike? Why was she trying to steal the bike he rented?
Except, that wasn’t the case.
The Karen—later identified as Sarah Comrie—was suspended from her job and harassed across the internet. She was made the face of modern racism.
Only, she doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong.
Comrie was doxxed, put on leave by her employer and accused by civil rights attorney Ben Crump of “weaponiz(ing) her tears” in ways that “endangered” the men in the video.
There was just one problem with the story: It went viral not for its accuracy, but because it fit many people’s preconceived notions about race in America. It turns out that Comrie was the victim – and the person with the right to the bike – and her attorney has the receipts to prove it.
NBC News' New York affiliate was one of several news outlets that confirmed that the receipt matched the rental code on the bike, causing NBC News to update its original story and Crump to delete his tweet.
False narratives often spread quick and confirm our biases
Confirmation bias, or the human brain’s tendency to prefer evidence that reinforces existing beliefs, is not new. Nor is the difficulty in overcoming it. What is new is the constant stream of out-of-context or entirely false narratives that fly across the world in a moment − and across our often biased, narrow sources of news and commentary. Instead of thinking critically, we react, sometimes with harmful consequences, as Comrie discovered.
There are lessons to be learned here, including that whole critical thinking thing.
After all, why would we assume a pregnant woman would seek out an altercation with a group of young, fit men? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. People should have questioned the whole thing from the start, especially when we’ve been told that one of the problems modern women face is fear that they’ll be murdered for whatever reason by some guy.
Why, then, would a vulnerable healthcare worker—she was wearing her scrubs in the video, which is funny because it wasn’t that long ago that she would have been described as a hero—put herself in the position to be killed like that?
Men are dangerous, doncha know?
We can talk about the lessons, though, but why bother?
The truth is that no one is interested in learning those lessons. We’ve seen this before. Does anyone remember the Covington kids, as an example? They were vilified in the court of public opinion because they stood somewhere and grinned without being sufficiently woke. They were accused of mocking a Native American veteran when it turns out that he was the one who approached them.
That kid got a massive payday. If he’s smart, he’ll never have to work a day in his life. CNN in particular funded this kid’s future lifestyle.
Did CNN learn its lesson after that? Not really.
It’s also pretty obvious that no one else did, either. They’re not worried about the truth. They haven’t been for a very long time, if ever. Instead, the media is looking for stories it can use to advance the narrative that there’s all this racism in the country, and this was too good to view skeptically.
So, they didn’t.
And, of course, the masses don’t dare think critically either. You’re supposed to side with the oppressed, the marginalized, against all others. Yes, that includes things like “truth” and “reality,” apparently.
Yet just like how “believe all women” led to the unwarranted demonization of Johnny Depp, this leads to people like Comrie being vilified for simply wanting to ride the bike she paid to rent.
And yet, being critical of what you’re seeing leads to demonization as well, despite the history we’ve all seen. You’re enabling sexism or racism or whatever else they want to brand you with, but they never seem interested in why you’re skeptical. You simply cannot accept the narrative, thus you’re guilty of WrongThink.
It’s that mindset, though, that shows why the lessons of what happened to Comrie won’t be heeded.
No one cares about right or wrong, it seems, just their own narratives.
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