Last night, Channel Nine newsreader Amber Sherlock went to ground and locked up her social media channels amid fierce, unrelenting backlash.
She, as I’m sure you’re aware, asked her colleague, Julie Snook, to put on a jacket before going on live television. She had a hint of sass, a tone of irritation and the exchange itself secreted a kind of passive-aggression that suggests the conversation had a bigger backstory than the two-minute video gave us access to.
Sherlock’s decision to shut down her Twitter and Instagram came after the vitriol levelled against her grew — as it too often does — into a far greater force than the “crime” itself.
Since the video went viral, Sherlock has been labelled a “bitch”, a “brat”, “crazy” and a “witch”.
And so we find ourselves in a familiar space. A high-profile person says something thoughtless or rude. The public eventually gets wind of said comment. And like a modern-day stampede that has unstoppable momentum and the guise of anonymity, the perpetrator of that comment quickly becomes the victim. They get caught, trampled by the force of the online world, the face of public shame.
And this is where we go wrong, every single time.
There’s a saying that goes, ‘yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’. I have no doubt it’s a saying Sherlock is reminding herself about a lot today. The slow death of newspapers aside, the idea still has merit. Our news cycle moves fast. Sherlock is the most talked about person in Australia right now, but she won’t be next week. Someone else will have filled that role.
The difference between our news cycle now and our news cycle in the days when yesterday’s news really was tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper is simple. It’s the damage we do while that news is, well, news.
Like a tornado, we destroy anyone on our radar. Social media users have picked her up, tossed her around and will drop her back on the ground before finding someone else to crucify, rarely turning back to consider the damage that lies in their wake.
This week, it’s Sherlock. Yes, she was brusque. She was dismissive. But even David Koch, star of rival network Channel 7, sympathises.