Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Proud to be an American (Loving the Little People Division)

LOS ANGELES--In case you hadn't noticed, a UCLA student named Alexandra Wallace recently posted a two-plus-minute YouTube video in which she criticized Asian students for having close-knit families and talking on cellular telephones in the library.
   If the internet has unloosed the unbridled id (people will say anything when anonymous), YouTube has unloosed unbridled--well, in this case, unintentional comedy.
   Inevitably, Ms. Wallace's observations have spawned a host of parodies and responses, not to mention the usual raft of replies, most written by men of great gallantry, criticizing her body parts and wishing death upon her.
   We have not inspected the parodies; life is short. You'll find them aside Ms. Wallace's video, which you'll find here (if the hyperlink disappears, it's: or here:

UPDATE: The Associated Press ran a story Saturday saying Ms. Wallace will be leaving UCLA. In a statement to the Daily Bruin, the campus paper, Ms. Wallace said the following: "In an attempt to produce a humorous YouTube video, I have offended the UCLA community and the entire Asian culture. Especially in the wake of the ongoing disaster in Japan, I would do anything to take back my insensitive words. I could write apology letters all day and night, but I know they wouldn't erase the video from your memory, nor would they act to reverse my inappropriate action." 
   Ms. Wallace added that her decision to cease studying at UCLA came in the wake of "the harassment of my family, the publishing of my personal information, death threats and being ostracized from an entire community." 
   In light of Ms. Wallace's apology, it would seem kind to remove the video from this post, or, indeed, the post itself. However, there is a broader point to be made here. 
   Modern technology has made it easy for anyone to communicate anything to anyone. This is not, in itself, either good or bad. The problem is, humans can be impulsive. When impulsivity meets modern communication technology, the result can be aggressive and hurtful. 
   When you add the protection of anonymity, anyone's capable of saying unkind things without fear of normal social strictures or reprisals. (By way of example, read the comments below stories on newspaper and magazine web sites.) 
   To her credit, Ms. Wallace eschewed anonymity. But she did post her rant. And her attitude and delivery in it appear not much different from those in some reality TV shows, wherein snottiness passes for wit and manners lose ground to bitchy self-centeredness. 
   Ah, well. Ms. Wallace has learned a lesson or two, and has done it the hard way. Will anyone else?

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