When a New York Times employee made a silly math mistake, she was not expecting the kind of backlash she got. What this episode shows is that we all need to have a sense of proportion and tone down the anger. None of this is helpful.
First: You will get mocked if you are a public figure. That comes with the territory and is something to be expected. Of course a viral tweet is going to generate a response. But nut-picking is a bad way to grade all of society or our general political environment. There are bad people out there who say terrible things, and it is easy to sift through the worst of the worst for website clicks and social media shares.
With that said, poking fun for an egregious math error is one thing. For the few who did send racist hate mail, you are behaving in a ridiculous manner. Knock it off. Criticism of public figures is one thing, but you are not proving anything by telling a black woman to “have a banana.” You are only proving that you are a hateful, bitter person and that you should not be taken seriously.
There is a bigger issue behind the idea that Michael Bloomberg could have simply given money to people who need financial help: It is none of your business what Bloomberg does with his own money. He wanted to spread a specific message and get his political perspective out there, and it did get him a lot of attention – probably millions of dollars in earned media. It did not translate to votes, so he clearly was not “buying the election.” A big war chest and lots of spending does not win elections. If that was the case, Jeb Bush would have been the Republican Party’s nominee in 2016.
We could all benefit from having a sense of proportion, whether it is using the rantings of a few cranks to judge society at large or the hateful rantings of the cranks themselves. The people outraged over Bloomberg spending his own money could have benefited from having some perspective as well. If this mess proves anything, it is that we all need to calm down.