4 'Victims' It's Time to Stop Feeling Sorry For (Part 2)
People love to play the victim these days. And why not? There are plenty of roles to go around. Be it a con artist preying on the kindness of others or a natural disaster wreaking havoc where it doesn't usually wreak, there seems to be an endless supply of new and exciting ways to turn regular people into marks and statistics.
As I've said before, not all of them actually deserve our support. Here are four more "victims" we should stop feeling sorry for.
Tip Shamers Who Get Fired
Tip shamers are all the rage on the Internet these days. If you're not familiar with the term, just know that it's exactly what it sounds like. Someone leaves a shitty gratuity at a restaurant, the waiter or waitress uploads visual proof to the Internet, and, in theory at least, the awful cheapskate learns about Internet justice the hard way.
Pictured: The hard way, apparently.
Of course, that's never how it turns out. Unless the person being shamed is recognizable by name, chances are very few people will ever know they've been called out online. If it is a recognizable name, that probably means they're famous and have likely dealt with way bigger PR disasters than the public finding out they only tipped 8 percent on a tableful of Hooters wings.
Like admitting they got suckered into buying a calendar while they were there.
The only constant that seems to turn up in every famous case of tip shaming is that, in the end, the beleaguered employee who got shafted out of his hard-earned 20 percent also loses his job for making a scene. It's at that point that the Internet collectively goes into outrage mode and starts lambasting the tip shamer's former employer with angry tweets about how they can go to hell for siding with The Man instead of having their employee's back.
As fun as Internet vigilantism may be, there are a few problems with the rage that always surrounds a good tip-shaming story. First, there's the obvious point: The food servers of the world, as unfortunate as it may be, get shitty to no tips all the time. The majority of them don't act out on the Internet about it for the same reason most of them don't just hop up on a table and shame the tip misers right there on the spot as they're leaving the restaurant. Doing that kind of shit gets you fired, anyone who's seen the Dane Cook/Ryan Reynolds entertainment juggernaut Waiting knows that.
So these two and ...?
So what kind of people do you end up supporting when you lend your opinion to a tip-shaming fracas? The kind who can say stuff like this:
Must be nice!
That's a quote from an interview with the Internet's newest working-class hero, Brendan O'Connor. I did the highlighting myself using Photoshop. Drop me a line for all your graphic design needs. Anyway, he was fired from his job for posting this tweet after a company near the food truck he worked at placed a $170 order and failed to leave a tip.
Fight the power.
The Internet exploded with angry words for his former rolling employer, just as you'd expect, but would that still have been the case if everyone knew beforehand that this aggrieved employee was basically flipping grilled cheese sandwiches for shits and giggles to combat the crippling boredom that comes with not having to pay your own bills?
Even if not, the people who rallied around him did so knowing full well that he also said this:
"I asked some of the group as they were picking up their orders if they had intended to not tip. They hemmed and hawed and walked away."
That's a quote from an article O'Connor wrote for the Awl. That article was the starting point for most of the outrage surrounding this controversy, and not a single person seems to be asking the obvious questions.
Such as "Did this kid really just refer to himself as a 'millennial'?"
First off, what kind of presumptive, entitled dickface just comes out and asks if someone is planning to leave a tip? Even if it was an honest mistake on the customer's part, is the $11 or so that you think should have your name on it worth looking like the biggest asshole in the world?
Beyond that, since when is tipping at a food truck a thing we're required to do? You don't tip at McDonald's, do you? How is this any different? People who wait tables are paid less than minimum wage with the expectation that they'll make up the difference in tips. Food truck workers are not. If I'm doing the majority of the delivery work, my only tip is that you should get your goddamn head checked if you think you're entitled to a tip.
People Who Don't Read Fine Print
I spent a lot of years laboring over hot telephones in various customer service factories before I finally settled into Brendan O'Connor's dream job here at Cracked. I answered customer service calls for everything from cellphones to health insurance to ... well that's it, I guess. Just those two things.
Nevertheless, that was enough time in the trenches to learn one undeniable truth about the average American consumer: When it comes to paperwork and the various terms and contracts we agree to on a regular basis, people don't read any of that shit.
To hell with your papers, corporate America!
In defense of all those truly awful people I talked to over the years, at least they had the good sense to call and ask questions about the things they didn't know. Some people don't, and that's how things like those "horror stories" about cellphone customers coming home from a trip abroad to find thousands of dollars in international roaming charges on their phone bill happen.
Like this guy, who talked his phone company into reducing a $22,000 bill all the way down to $200. He had a fairly legitimate argument in that the carrier should have notified him at some point well before things got that out of hand, but at the same time, finding out how your phone works when you leave the country is as much the customer's responsibility as anything. At least you should think of it that way if you'd prefer to just not come home to a crazy bill as opposed to fighting things out for hours (or days) on the telephone.
It's not as fun as this picture makes it look.
An unfortunate side effect of carriers setting up vast digital networks that cover almost all of the country is that one of the things cellphone customers used to live in mortal fear of, roaming charges, are practically a non-issue now. If you're somewhere in the United States where your phone doesn't work, you probably don't want to be there anyway and likely won't be ever again. Or you have AT&T and are in the downtown area of any major city.
Whatever the case, what I'm saying is that it's been a long time since most of us have had to worry about paying exorbitant roaming charges while traveling within the country.
Do you see Canada or Mexico anywhere on your coverage map, though? If you do, those countries likely aren't the same color as the land you call home, and I don't mean that in a racist way, even if it was kind of racist of me to make that declaration in the first place.
Because everyone in Canada is white.
The point is, if you just do some cursory research into things like "Will my phone work at the shady Mexican pharmacy where I buy my back pills?" or "Does my health insurance cover breast implants?" you can save yourself a ton of hassle in the future.
If you don't, it's nobody's fault but your own if drunkenly uploading every plate of poutine you eat to Instagram during that bender in Winnipeg eventually bankrupts you.
Americans Who Get Harsh Punishments for Petty Crimes Committed Abroad
Listen, some people who wind up in unfortunate situations totally bring that shit on themselves. That's especially true when it comes to Americans who commit crimes abroad and then act surprised when the shithole country they decided to start being a criminal in also turns out to have shithole prisons.
The outpouring of misplaced public sympathy that almost always accompanies a situation like this can be traced back to the 1978 film (and 1977 book) Midnight Express, which tells the true story of a man named Billy Hayes who was facing a life sentence in a terrifying Turkish prison before finally escaping.
Looks like the cover art for the VHS release was made in a Turkish prison also.
I've seen the movie a few times and come away from it thinking the exact same thing every time -- don't tape 4 pounds of hash (which is a lot, by the way, a whole lot) to your torso and then try to fly out of Turkey with it, dummy. I'm supposed to feel sympathy because your idiocy resulted in a book and movie deal? I'll move into a Turkish prison myself before that day comes to pass.
That's a lie.
Of course, there are absolutely times when that public outrage is warranted. Arresting a woman for reporting that she was raped, for example, is the kind of thing that should end with a U.N.-sanctioned bombing if all other negotiations fail.
I'm less sympathetic if, say, you vandalized a bunch of cars in Singapore and have to endure being beaten with a stick as repentance. That's a problem that can be avoided simply by not being a vandal, which is how the majority of the world, regardless of nationality, approaches the situation.
Of course, there's a good chance that you already don't feel sorry for the people above or anyone of their ilk. What about those more innocent cases, though?
For example, do you remember those hikers who were arrested in Iran and accused of being spies for the United States? Is the government responsible for seeing them back home to safety? That depends -- are they really spies?
Of course not.
If so, then yeah, do what you can to get them back. And I suspect that if you've booked a trip to hike along the Iraq/Iran border anytime in the past decade or so, there's a good chance you had motivations that go beyond a routine nature walk.
If that's not the case, though, I'd direct you to the lead-off point from the first version of this article. Bailing you out when a wacky adventure goes wrong shouldn't necessarily be the public's responsibility.
Or what about the case of Laura Ling, the American journalist who was arrested for entering North Korea without permission? By all accounts, she was in fact guilty. Her more famous big sister, Lisa Ling (whom you undoubtedly remember from her time on The View), even said as much in an interview about the incident.
Good looking out, sis!
The Washington Post took it a step further, explaining that the U.S. changing their request to have Ling released on "humanitarian grounds" to a plea for amnesty amounted to the government acknowledging that she did commit a criminal offense.
So why does Bill Clinton have to personally fly to North Korea to talk them out of imposing their insanely harsh sentence? Because the television network she was working for while in North Korea, Current TV, was owned by Al Gore, that's why.
The rest of us shouldn't expect the same treatment. And that's exactly the way it should be.
People Who Get Catfished
There comes a point in time where a scam gets to be so commonly known that people who still fall for it are less like victims and more like cogs in the evolutionary machine whose only real function is to be eaten by predators. Like people who fall for Nigerian email scams, for example. Those dipshits still exist, sometimes in the form of an entire law firm. It would probably be a tall order to find a lot of people who legitimately feel bad for someone of sound mind who still gets taken by such an obvious con.
Along those same lines, I think it's time to add "catfishing" to that list of plots and ploys that shouldn't be fooling the right-thinking segment of the population anymore. If that's a term you've never heard, it basically means that one person has conned another into an emotional relationship by using a false identity. Um, just like real catfish do, I guess? I've never really understood the name.
Oh, well I guess I get it now.
Feeling sad for people delusional enough to believe that someone who refuses to meet them in person isn't hiding a dark secret made for a fun documentary and a less-fun-bordering-on-sad television series, both simply titled Catfish. And you know what? When something has received that much attention, you're only doing yourself a disservice by not looking into what all the fuss is about.
This guy plays Catfish, I think.
It's like losing a trivia contest because the last question was about a Lady Gaga song and you've for some reason decided that, despite having a breadth of knowledge in all other areas of pop culture, knowing things about something that so many people like is beneath you.
Or maybe it isn't anything like that. I'm just saying, learn some shit about the world. If everyone is talking about a crazy new thing, at least give it a Google so you know why it's so crazy. I've always assumed that was why Dateline NBC had to stop doing those To Catch a Predator shows. At some point word must have gotten around in the pedophile community that the Internet was no longer a good place to pick up kids.
If you see cookies and lemonade, get a lawyer.
Or maybe someone finally realized that show was basically televised entrapment. One of the two.
Whatever the case, we've reached that same point with the catfish phenomenon. Stories like this one about a woman who sent $25,000 worth of cash and prizes to a man she met on Match.com who claimed to be a soldier in Afghanistan but turned out to be a scammer in Ghana are unfortunate, but at the same time, holy shit, who is still falling for that kind of stuff? It would be one thing if the entire $25,000 scheme unfolded in one sitting, but it didn't. Her first clue that something was amiss was when the pretend soldier asked her to send him a new laptop, but to send it via FedEx to Ghana instead of sending it to Afghanistan where he claimed to be stationed. You can forgive idiocy like that once. It's harder to dismiss as innocent naivete when you do $24,000 worth of the same stupid thing.
And don't even get me started on Manti Te'o.
Unless you'd like to join me in mocking his silly tattoos.
My point is, there are tons of stories and resources out there warning people of the dangers of things on the Internet that seem too good to be true. If you don't take the time to make yourself aware of them, whatever happens as a result is at least partially your fault.