It was heartbreaking to see the photo of the smiling little girl sporting a cute eye patch and still-red scars on her face. Internet users all over would recognize the photo of 3-year-old Victoria Wilcher as the little girl whose scarred face allegedly upset customers at a Mississippi KFC and according to the girl's grandmother, the family was asked to leave.
Outrage followed as the story broke and Internet users all over the world demanded KFC pay for such a morally corrupt reaction to a disfigured child. Recently, the story was exposed as a hoax following an investigation by KFC.
What is most disturbing about this incident is the reaction of people who have no connection. According to news reports, employees and managers at the KFC in question received death threats, have had drinks and other things thrown at them, and have generally suffered extreme harassment and persecution from people who simply read about the alleged incident.
Have we become a shallow society that is so quick to believe everything we read on the Internet that we will throw aside common human decency? Even if managers at the KFC had asked the little girl to leave, does that suddenly give other people the right to treat them with even more disdain and disgust?
The Internet is riddled with similar stories in which someone tried to perpetuate a hoax to gain attention or financial gain (How many recent incidents have been there been in which a waiter or waitress supposedly received a receipt with a nasty message scrawled on it, only to discover it was a hoax?).
Perhaps in the future, Internet users will become smarter, wiser, and more discerning. Before jumping on a bandwagon to grab the torches and pitchforks in order to burn down the castle of the mad scientist, perhaps people will wait for all the facts. Maybe people will even have enough sense to understand that they have no right to seek their own vengeance in such cases. Maybe. Once can always hope.