A woman lost her NASA internship after beefing with a former NASA engineer on Twitter.
This is a wild fucking ride, so buckle up.
A woman named Naomi H. tweeted on Monday, August 20: “Everyone shut the fuck up. I got accepted for a NASA internship.”
Wow, that’s huge news and something anyone could be proud of. But as we’ll be saying a few dozen times over the course of this story – it could have ended there, but it didn’t.
Nearly a full day after her original tweet, Homer Hickam replied with one word: “Language.” Who cares, right? Some old jackass doesn’t like the f-word. Big deal. But that’s not just any old jackass. Homer Hickam is a former NASA engineer and author of the memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the film October Sky starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
But Naomi probably didn’t realize that. She thought she was just dealing with some Twitter troll. So she replied to Hickam: “suck my dick and balls I’m working at NASA” to which he responded “And I am on the National Space Council that oversees NASA.”
Before we get to anything else – does Homer Hickam just spend his days searching “NASA” on Twitter?
And on the other hand: if you’re applying for an internship at NASA and a Homer Hickam shows up, you should probably know who that guy is. So right off the bat, some things could have been done differently. And, it could have ended right there, but it didn’t. Because soon after he responded, Hickam started being attacked by Naomi’s followers on Twitter.
And this has brought some negative attention to Furries, as Naomi’s avatar appears to identify her as a member of the furry community. Many of the people discussing the story and harrassing Hickam online were furries as well. But this is more a story with the Furry Community in it, and not a story about Furries. Unfortunately, the feckless toads at 4chan got wind of the story and are trying to make this all about furry-shaming.
And yet again, it could have stopped there, but it didn’t.
NASA actually saw all this going on because of the harassment Hickam was enduring, and fired Naomi H from her internship! She deleted her Twitter account, and in another account that appears to have been suspended, she confirmed that she got fired over the comments and is now enduring harassment of her own online.
But there might, at some point, be a happy ending here, because Homer Hickam saw what happened to Naomi and felt bad!
He wrote in a blog post that has also since been deleted: “I learned she had lost her offer for an internship with NASA. This I had nothing to do with nor could I since I do not hire and fire at the agency…” He added: “She reached out to me with an unnecessary apology which I heartily accepted and returned with my own. After talking to her, I am certain she deserves a position in the aerospace industry and I’m doing all I can to secure her one that will be better than she lost.”
So, while Naomi may not get her NASA internship back, it looks like she has a powerful friend on her side in the aerospace industry. However, this is yet another reminder of the power of social media to create instant communication and disastrous overreaction.
Pretty much everyone involved here can learn a lesson. Generally, there’s no need to tell people online to suck your balls. Also, if you think someone’s choice of words might get them into trouble, there are easier ways to approach that than to simply reply “Language.” Plus, if you’re a community that wants to defend someone who you feel is being unfairly attacked, keep in mind that you might do more harm than good, simply by bringing attention to the situation.
Because once the toolbags at 4chan get their grubby rat hands on it, we’re done for.
What do you guys think? Should NASA give Naomi her internship back? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.