Everyone has a breakdown now and then. Sometimes, stresses in life can overtake someone and they need to release some of that pressure. Some people have outlets, such as exercise, friends or alcohol. However, when this stress builds up, the consequences can be terrible for themselves and others. The situation gets much worse with the addition of social media, shown by Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon’s episode with an Uber
driver in January 2016. Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon was a medical resident in Miami when she verbally and physically attacked an Uber driver. Her attack was filmed by a bystander, Juan Cinco, who took a full video on his phone and commented as he filmed. He uploaded this video onto YouTube and it immediately became a sensation with over 585,200 views to date. The full video of Anjali attacking the driver can be found here. Googling her name pulls up over 34,000 results, including hundreds of personal images and links to articles about the incident. Later, the Uber driver did not press charges but was refunded money for the damages that Anjali caused to his car. The driver showed empathy for Anjali.
On the other hand, the empathy of the Internet, or lack thereof, can also have huge effects on the lives of normal people who are going about their life. Social media allows people to easily distance themselves from others and create boundaries, thereby limiting their empathy. However, in the New York Times, Wayne argues
that “Facebook can break down those boundaries. We can be exposed to different ways of thinking and emotional situations” because the Internet allows us to connect to so many people (Wayne). The article also mentions, “the youngest generation may be the most amenable to screen-based opportunities for empathy” with more exposure to others’ situations online (Wayne). There were over 460 comments on Anjali’s apology post on Facebook. Her post was a plea, saying “it had nothing to do with my ability to perform my duties as a doctor” (Ramkissoon). The responses to her post, as shown below, demonstrate empathy as well as hate from the Internet.
The replies demonstrate the range of emotions for Anjali after the incident. Many people harassed Anjali not only over social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, but also called and emailed her and her family because they found her private information online. People also assumed she was a spoiled brat because she is attractive and a “rich” doctor. In this way, the Internet makes it very easy for the public to shame her. However, the truth behind her story elicits empathy in some people, who did offer support and advice for her over social media. Anjali, although drunk, had just broken up with her boyfriend and her father was recently hospitalized. People empathize with her because they understand the difficulties of being a medical resident and how the stresses of life pile on and need to be released sometimes. These posts show that the Internet can have empathy even though there was no consensus on the public’s feelings about Anjali.
The website, http://anjaliramkissoon.org, is an example of the attention Anjali has received from her outburst. This website is one of the first links that comes up in Google and it viciously attacks Anjali, which demonstrates how the Internet can spread its hurtful opinions on social media. It provides information about how to file a complaint with Anjali’s former job as well as how to file a complaint with the Board of Medicine. The anonymous author calls her a “psychopath” and claims he is trying to “warn the world about her,” even though her whole story is exposed on the Internet (Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon). Online shaming allows for people to express their opinions without disclosing their own names, making their attacks impersonal. Hiding behind the screen anonymously also allows people to not fully empathize with the victim because they cannot know what the victim is going through in real life. Thus, I don’t agree with the website because it doesn’t present both sides fairly. We can only judge and empathize with Anjali if we look at her perspective from that night.
I have empathy for her. In my opinion, the website attacks Anjali even after she apologized publicly on “Good Morning America” and she was fired from her job. The website even directly calls out Anjali, saying, “you have permanently soiled your reputation on the Internet,” which destroys her life because she now has no privacy or ability to start over (Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon). The website can be seen by anyone and even invites more information to add to the website by providing an email address, MockeryandDerision@gmail.com. This example of how social media can tear apart someone’s life demonstrates how the Internet often does not have empathy for normal people who make mistakes. I believe that Anjali’s outburst was unwarranted and wrong but I, unlike the website, have empathy for her because she needed to release the stress in her life. By putting myself in her shoes, I can try to understand her emotions that night and her regret after the incident. I can then fully empathize with Anjali because I am looking through her perspective. By documenting the incident, social media ruined Anjali’s life but together we can empathize and forgive her.
Dr. Anjali Ramkissoon. 2016, http://anjaliramkissoon.org/. Accessed 17 October 2016.
Genova, Alexandria. “Potty-mouthed Miami doctor finally gets fired after she was filmed drunkenly attacking Uber driver while trashing his car.” Dailymail, Published 22 April 2016, Edited 25 April 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article- 3554889/Miami-doctor-30-FIRED-filmed-attacking-Uber-driver-trashing-car- shouting-profanities.html. Accessed 17 October 2016.
Ramkissoon, Dr. Anjali. Facebook, 22 January 2016, https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Anjali- Ramkissoon-1553116195006101/?rf=1030838956957926. Accessed 18 October 2016.
Wayne, Teddy. “Found on Facebook: Empathy.” The New York Times, Future Tense, 9 October 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/11/fashion/found-on-facebook- empathy.html. 2 November 2016.