Just a few days ago an ESPN reporter named Britt McHenry was outed online for being a huge jerk to an employee at a tow company’s impound lot.
Watching the video was super sad. The words that Britt chose to use were horrific. Here’s the original video (warning, there’s foul language; viewer beware!):
But seeing and hearing the response people had to Britt’s words was also pretty harsh. Twitter blew up with the topics #FireBritt and #FireBrittMcHenry trending nationwide. Let me give you a few examples of things people said:
— Jon Gelb (@GelbJon) April 18, 2015
Proof that beauty is skin deep but ugly is to the bone. What a spoiled mean person. She has no place on ESPN or TV. What a jerk #firebritt
— Stephanie B Smith (@Stephrolltide) April 17, 2015
— kyle Thomas (@Kyle__Thomas) April 17, 2015
— Sam Bolland (@sambolland) April 16, 2015
And there were many, many more…and some of them were much, much worse. Lots of people were saying that they wished Britt would be sexually assaulted or that she would contract horrible diseases. Geez, Twitter can be such a nasty place!
Why Hate on Britt?
All of the outrage really got me thinking: Why have people, myself included, been so quick to hate on Britt?
The obvious answer is, well, obvious. The things that Britt said were horrible. She openly and aggressively belittled the woman working behind the counter. She made fun of her looks, her supposed lack of education, her choice in careers, and even her dental hygiene.
And, as has been pointed out by thousands of people already, in the video Britt sounds an awful lot like Regina George from Mean Girls!
But I think there’s another reason for all the hate. It may take a bit of convincing though, so bear with me.
I think that some of the outrage over the comments made by Britt have less to do with Britt and more to do with us. What do I mean?
Well, I think that the filth that spewed out of Britt’s mouth reminded each of us of our capacity for spewing filth too. Most of us have said similar things when we’ve been angry, tired, stressed, or the like. And most of us felt horrible after we did so.
And if truth be told, we think these same things all the time too.
But if we focus our attention on the horrible things that Britt said, then we can avoid for a moment the reality that we’re pretty stinky ourselves.
We can deflect some of our self-frustration and focus it on Britt instead.
She can become our scapegoat. She can be the person to fill in the “Well at least I’m not as bad as _____” sentence.
We’re All Mean Girls at Heart
In moments like these it is important for us as followers of Jesus not to point the finger solely at Britt, as if she’s the only one guilty of egotistical bullying.
Instead, her comments afford us an opportunity to look at ourselves in the mirror and take stock.
We need to ask ourselves a few hard questions:
- Do I demonstrate with my words and actions that I think I’m better than others?
- Am I willing to be loving and kind even when I’m angry, tired, and frustrated?
- Why am I so quick to judge others but so slow to change my own behavior and thinking?
- And Why do I sometimes revel in the pain of others when they make mistakes?
What do you think? What can we learn from this situation with Britt McHenry? Let me know in the comments below!