Making the World a Worse Place, One Twitter Mob at a Time

Life is filled with nuance, with complexity. Take, for example, the case of Amy Cooper. Cooper is a 41-year-old white woman who worked at Franklin Templeton, an asset management firm. She was walking her dog without a leash in the Ramble section of Central Park when she was confronted by a black man named Christian Cooper (no relation). He told her to leash her dog; she refused.

According to Christian, he then stated, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it.” She asked what he meant. He then summoned her dog, planning to give the dog treats. “I pull out the dog treats I carry for just such intransigence,” he explained.

At that point, he began filming the exchange. She told him to stop taping; he refused. While grabbing her dog by its collar, she informed him she would call the cops. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said. He responded, “Please tell them whatever you like.” She did, in fact, call the police, and said: “I’m in the Ramble, and there’s a man, African American. He has a bicycle helmet, and he is recording me and threatening me and my dog.”

In real life, we’d examine the issue as objectively as possible. It appears that Christian Cooper did indeed say something vaguely threatening — “I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it” — and then attempted to get her dog to approach him. It also appears that Amy Cooper threatened him in racist fashion, implicitly suggesting that by telling the police that a black man was threatening her life, she could place him in mortal danger.


Suffice it to say that the proper solution here would have been for Amy Cooper to apologize and recognize the implicit racism in her own statements, for Christian Cooper to forgive her and for everyone to move on.

Instead, Christian Cooper posted the video. Twitter went wild. The outcome: Amy was labeled a racist and fired from her job, and had to surrender her dog. Her life was effectively ruined.

The world of social media has not made us any more responsible, any kinder or any more decent. It has made us far worse. That's because Twitter isn't about signaling virtue. It's about signaling commitment. It's insufficient to merely analyze events and give an honest take. You must be for or against something. And you demonstrate full commitment to that position. Your entire online identity rests on others retweeting or liking your purity of heart. There is no risk -- only reward -- in dunking on Amy Cooper, tweeting at her employer, encouraging her destruction. You will be rewarded for your anti-racism, amply demonstrated with just a few clicks. If you suggest any motivational complexity -- that perhaps Amy Cooper said something racist and over-the-top but wasn't lying when she said she felt threatened -- then you will be tarred as insufficiently committed to the anti-racist cause.

This logic holds across the board. If President Donald Trump sends out a series of bizarre and morally reprehensible tweets accusing Joe Scarborough of murdering a congressional intern -- and if you point out that this is both bizarre and morally reprehensible -- then you will be labeled insufficiently loyal to the cause. It's not about truth; it's not about decency; it's about signaling your commitment.

In the real world, commitment without decency is a sin. Online, commitment without decency is a virtue. Which is why if you spend too much time on Twitter, you probably ought to be committed.

Ben Shapiro, 36, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of "The Ben Shapiro Show" and editor-in-chief of He is the author of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "The Right Side of History." He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles.

When you sign up to comment you'll also receive our regular newsletter. You can find more about how we use your information here.

11 thoughts on “Making the World a Worse Place, One Twitter Mob at a Time”

  1. Don’t ever say people pay too much attention to the Twits (Twitter). I follow Donald Trump only. Once in a while I tweet when I see an article such as yours that has a video with a twitter name and I will then add something. Your reasoning is totally wrong. I have been trying to get everyone to leave the evil. communist Nazi Twitter. You owe an apology to all of us!



  3. Twitter started out as a place to communicate and exchange idea and opinions. What it quickly devolved into was a very dark cesspool that is not helping much of anything. Since Trump has at his beck and call very talented “tech” people, I would encourage him to quit Twitter and have his “tech” people put together a “platform” for him only and that he use it sparingly to get his message out. I have never “liked” the rich kid playboy from NYC as far as his personality…as I have disdain for many of that ilk, but I did vote for him solely because it was either don’t vote at all or vote for him hoping against hope that the least I could expect from him was a “brake” on the rise of socialism/globalism within our nation. I also voted because of wanting to see the courts from SCOTUS down through the federal benches get more balanced by appointing more constitutionalists and conservatives hoping that would give Lady Justice a “tune up”. I still am not enamored with Trumps personality, and his lack of good communication skills , he should have been getting “tutored” since day one in my opinion on how to choose words carefully and to tamp down on his impulsiveness as he is his own worst enemy a great deal of the time. He is like most of US out here, he is upset, he is angry and justifiably so, but WE out here can “get away” with being impulsive a whole bunch more than a President….I do hope he is reelected while at the same time I wonder why he even wants to! The nation is surely divided and sadly it is my opinion that it is not a 50/50 division anymore, it has now passed the tipping point where conservatism is being literally mauled by the liberal progressive/globalist crowd and that is happening as the population ages , the older conservative pass away and more and more those who are coming to voting age have been well indoctrinated and I don’t see that turning around unfortunately. It is a depressing thing to watch our nation, the bastion of freedom and constitutional protections being ripped apart and it is very depressing to admit that I am glad to be as old as I am because in a very few short years I will leave this world that I have come to abhor.

    1. Claudia, I totally agree with you on every single point. I, too, have thought how the deterioration of our nation will effect me only a little – but my children and grandchildren will be saddled with the debt we’ve allowed our leaders to create, and will never again know the prosperity and liberty we enjoyed. It’s so sad that so many brave and heroic Americans gave their very lives to buy us that liberty, and those that simply inherited it are eager to give it away.

      1. Mike, as a veteran who saw combat in Vietnam, I’ve held that our nations commitment to freedom has been worth the fight; that Americans have fought and died in defence of it is America’s message to the world that God and mortal reasoning is our guiding light; that the world need not worry because America has its back. It saddens and sickens me to see what has become of our once great nation. Trump is trying to get us back on track, but I fear that all his efforts are in vain. I see a nation in a self destructive orgy, unable to stop the carnage. God, please bless us all!

Comments are closed.