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Angry racists don’t represent Brookhaven

A troubling trend seems to have landed in Brookhaven and Lincoln County. It appears some people, including public officials, are allowing the outrage that’s become a regular feature on Facebook to drive their decision-making.

It’s happened with issues that are important and some that are relatively mundane. But the pattern has been established: A topic is discussed in a public meeting or is otherwise addressed publicly, the reporting of that topic is posted to Facebook, people rail against those who are discussing the topic, and people make a decision in order to pacify the angry mob on Facebook.

Sometimes they twist themselves into knots trying to find a position that will enflame the fewest number of people on Facebook.

It’s decision-making based in fear, not based in sound logic.

This kind of mob-outrage is a feature of Facebook. The social media platform is designed to amplify the loudest voices, and more times than not, the loudest voice is an angry voice.

But leaders should not make decisions based on the all-caps shouting of a few dozen people on Facebook.

The platform brings out the worst in us, as evidenced by the response to the Forest Hill halftime show. The mob quickly turned to racial slurs to express their anger and disapproval. They directed those slurs at children. Some suggested they be hung from a tree.

That same mob cried foul when Brookhaven officials called for the Forest Hill band to be reinstated following a suspension. Some called for arrests; others suggested they be expelled from school.

Facebook, for all its wonders, is providing this community with the perfect instrument by which to destroy itself. It takes the worst, amplifies it, spreads it, and gives rise to more of the same. And it’s dividing this community in ways that many are not willing to admit.

So what’s the solution? For starters, a little love and kindness would go a long way. But beyond that, the best way to quench the hate of a bully is to ignore it. Public officials should try ignoring the mob, or at least putting their numbers in perspective. The rest of us should, too.

A few dozen angry racists on Facebook do not represent this community. It’s not who or what Brookhaven is. We all need to remember that.