In this social media world, we’ve always been advised not to broadcast any behavior that we wouldn’t want our employers to see. Well, someone at Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) didn’t take this warning seriously.
On May 5, SDOT called its employers — in this case, taxpayers — “scumbags” on its Twitter feed (it was subsequently deleted, followed by apologies, after the uproar).
The “scumbags” name was in reference to a popular Internet character (or “meme”) named Scumbag Steve, who wears an oversized, brown cap sideways. An SDOT staffer, updating the department’s Twitter feed about traffic on the West Seattle Bridge, applied the brown cap on top of multiple vehicles in the traffic-camera view, where drivers were presumably gawking at an accident on the opposite side of the bridge.
“You get a scumbag hat, you get a scumbag hat, everyone gets a scumbag hat! Haha, I’m mean #sorry,” read the accompanying text.
While there is room for humor in broadcasting official updates (the Seattle Police Department sometimes points out an incident’s absurdity in its posts), not everyone will understand the references. In this case, most people read the word “scumbag” to mean the original definition of a contemptible person. Being stuck in traffic doesn’t remotely qualify one for “scumbag” status.
At least it took drivers’ minds off of Bertha’s ever-growing tunnel-construction delays and impending Metro Transit service cuts for a while.…