If you’ve been on social media the past few weeks, you’ve no doubt witnessed some epic meltdowns. Seemingly normal people caught on video doing and/or saying things that are outrageous, unfathomable and, sometimes, illegal.

Last Friday at the Home Depot in McHenry, an argument over wearing masks turned into waving the middle finger and yelling about “white power.” The incident devolved into a wrestling match that resulted in a battery charge.

A Florida man named Daniel Maples shouted down fellow customers at a Costco while wearing a red “Running the World Since 1776” T-shirt. Video of that incident went viral this week as well. Maples was subsequently fired from his job at an insurance agency.

Harvard University grad Claira Janover recently took to TikTok to declare she would “stab” anyone who said “all lives matter.” Her upcoming internship at a Big Four accounting firm was rescinded.  

Last weekend, Sonya Holt of Tennessee was caught on video screaming racist and homophobic slurs. By Monday, Family Vision Center in Johnson City had terminated her employment.  

In a time not so long ago, these incidents may have gone unnoticed, or at least remained localized. Today, video-enabled smartphones and social media have combined to the point that we all are one public tantrum away from worldwide scrutiny.

With so many out of work and so many restrictions on normal lives, tensions are high right now. Issues of racial inequality have added to the stress felt by many of us. The recent heat wave gripping the Midwest has only added fuel to the fire.

In this combustible environment, it would be a good idea for all of us to take a collective deep breath and do our best to exercise some patience.

Remember that the person next to you in line at the grocery store or seated near you at the doctor’s office likely is feeling many of the same stresses you are experiencing. We’re all on edge.

But we would be wise to exercise restraint. A moment of unfiltered rage can result in a lifetime of regret. There are cameras everywhere waiting to catch our worst moments. Nearly every store has cameras, and nearly every person carries a smartphone.

From this moment forward, whenever Maples, Janover or Holt apply for a job, their video rants will be the first thing found in an online search by prospective employers. The same is true for the many others who have had their worst moments captured on video. The internet leaves an indelible stain.

If someone isn’t wearing a face covering, simply do what you can to avoid that person. If someone beats you to a parking spot, find another space. If someone frowns at you, smile at them and hope their day gets better.

Losing your temper – even for a minute – could change your life forever.

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