Heather Wick pays the price — again — for social media message

Everything is forever on the Internet, so there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen a post like this in your Facebook or Twitter feed in the last 24 hours and perhaps you’ve even dutifully followed the instruction to repost it without questioning anything about it. “Make her pay, famous,” the instructions say, and people online are only too happy to spread the hate in return. we

The post is actually a year old. It was up for three days last January, after which Heather Wick’s family members and distant friends received death threats for days. Now, they’re back in the line of fire.

Even Albany Medical College, which Wick attended for a year before a breakdown, had to fire up the denials again.

“My mother keeps calling and saying — she’s my bipolar watchdog — she says, ‘You were manic when you wrote that, you were manic!’” Wick said after the post last year. “I wasn’t manic, I was making a satirical joke. I regret that I did it because it was a little too over the line. I meant it as a joke but I apologize if I offended anybody.”

Wick is bipolar and the Vermont website, Seven Days, says a family member said at the time that it likely played a part in the ill-advised post.

A concerned family member of Wick’s contacted Seven Days after learning about the story. This close relative, who asked not to be named because he, too, has received angry phone calls and was concerned for his family’s safety, reiterated Wick’s statements about her mental health. He detailed Wick’s struggle and said she’d been in good shape for the past five years.

He said that a recent trip to Hawaii, and the resulting jetlag, threw Wick out of whack. Wick, he said, has been in the midst of a manic episode beginning some time before she typed up her ill-fated post.

None of that was known by people who first saw her post shared.

A St. Louis TV reporter, Gina Cheatham, is responsible for the first barrage, and doesn’t find mental illness an excuse.

“It’s not OK. We all have issues we are dealing with individually and that does not excuse us for hurting other people,” Cheatham said last year. “Your mouth is the biggest weapon you have and you can use it for healing — or for hurting.”

Why did Wick, a Bernie Sanders voter, make the post in the first place?

“I was reading posts from Facebook friends,” she continued, “who were saying, ‘Trump’s going to kill us all; he’s going to remove all protections for the LGBT community; he’s going to turn back civil rights.’ Finally, I got sick of hearing all these doomsayers, and I put up a post that said: ‘Hey, maybe Trump will bring back slavery. I could use a maid.’”

And here we are. Wick reiterated that she apologizes and regrets the post immensely.

“Bipolar is one of those illnesses that, even if you’re stable, you can have minor blips on the radar,” Wick said on Friday. “Unfortunately one minor blip on the radar was the comment I made about slavery.

“Managing bipolar disorder is an hour-by-hour job,” she added. “If it comes on, I’m completely uncontrollable. I become a monster. You just have no idea what’s going to come out of my mouth.”

“What’s funny is she does not know me and I don’t know her,” Cheatham said. “She probably doesn’t even know my name.”

Maybe not that funny.

  • jon

    Satire is very difficult in a world that is dead set on making satire a reality.

  • Jerry

    Satire is dangerous without context.

    • That’s why it’s important that Facebook posts be set to “friends only”

  • Kelly McCarthy

    When i was doing social media for a law enforcement agency, I quickly learned that each post has to stand alone. Meaning that people will not search for satire or humor. If you have to explain, it is too late.

  • MyLovelyNose

    Oh, please. I don’t want someone with an “uncontrollable condition” in any position of responsibility, especially when she’s going to first double down on what she said, and only afterwards claim, “The BP Devil made me do it!” This woman probably has a long history of outright lying, and then thinking her cute blondesomeness would get her through. Disgusting.

  • LoriAnn Stevens

    NO EXCUSE. Racism is nasty and ugly. Being bipolar is NO EXCUSE. This woman needs to keep her gob shut and stop spewing hatred online. I will continue to share her filthy post far and wide. Racists will be outed … PERIOD.

    • // This woman needs to keep her gob shut and stop spewing hatred online.

      Which she did. She apologized and closed her accounts so you got what you wanted. So why are you creating a bigger audience for a message you deem racist?

      What is it you want to happen because what you say you want to happen, happened a year ago.

      • Stelio Freeman

        (Bob is probably a racist too)

        • In one parenthetical statement, you pretty much just proved my point. Online it’s : Ready, Fire, Aim.

          Still unanswered, however, is why so many people who blindly repeat what ended up on their timeline today are so disinterested in knowing what they’re talking about before they talk?

          • Stelio Freeman

            hey bob, i can see your post history.
            i wouldn’t have you at my cookout, you racist. 🙂

          • // hey bob, i can see your post history.

            There are 14,000 posts of mine here. All of them public. Anyone can easily see them all by investing a little time and effort into being more informed.

            I rather suspect that’s the point of failure for most people.

  • John F.

    Interesting how the discussion surrounding mental illness changes when someone says something that people don’t like or find offensive.

    I have been often reminded by mental health professionals that reducing the stigma regarding mental illness begins with seeing it as an legitimate illness that has real-life symptoms and consequences, often out of the person’s control.

    • What’s happening in this case is pretty much what the Russians depended on in trying to influence the outcome of a democratic election: They needed people to have absolutely no curiosity to investigate what they’re told before making a decision on whether to create a reality by sharing it. It happens all the time on social media on any number of topics (one of my favorites was Obama has created another Pearl Harbor by ordering all aircraft carriers to berth in Virginia Beach). We’re just not very good at being curious.

      • John F.

        Agree completely. Even it’s the topic of endless jokes about its usefulness, I am glad that one of my two college majors was in philosophy, which encouraged a healthy curiosity with critical thinking.