Why the powerful implode on Twitter

This is, of course, easier said than done, particularly as social media platforms—Twitter chief among them—have conspired to blur the boundaries between the trolls and the trolled, with the voices of the unknown amplified, and those of the powerful brought low in the democratized landscape. If anyone should have known his way around this minefield, you would think it might be ESPN prodigal son and gale force wind turbine Keith Olbermann, who, the network announced yesterday, would be suspended from his show after a prolonged Twitter tirade aimed at Penn State University students.

And yet even the more media savvy among us, like Olbermann—perhaps especially those types—continue, time and again, to absentmindedly step Sideshow Bob-like into a digital landscape littered with rakes.

Olbermann isn’t the first powerful public figure to go snorkeling in the septic tank, and he certainly won’t be the last. Last week, John Oliver made light of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for his habit of calling out social media critics by name, including an 18-year-old whose personal information he made widely available.