The internet is a great place. Need to spread the word on the street about that one delicious Indian restaurant? Yelp it! Want to try a chicken piccata recipe? Go to Pinterest! How’s Aunt Linda and your loud cousin? Simple, Facebook has the answer.
Everything is at your disposal, and it’s amazing (I’m actually not being sarcastic about this). Another thing I used to enjoy about te internet was the dialogue and especially the humor that came out of that dialogue (i.e.- memes, and interactions of other sorts). It gave me a good laugh to see how funny this dialogue often got. In fact, that’s part of the reason I enjoyed blogging- I got to talk and connect with others I probably would not have the chance to, and even if we didn’t agree on a subject or issue, we could openly talk about it and learn something from one another.
But sometimes things change, and in my opinion not for the better. Recently I got stuck in what I call a “YouTube wormhole”, a place where I often find myself watching an endless array of videos. I somehow ended up at this one video with this young woman talking about a movie she recently saw, naturally on the YouTube platform I scrolled down to the comments to see if people agreed with her views on the movie or not.
When I read the comments, there was not one nice thing to say- not essentially on her thoughts about the movie, but just her in general. They attacked her looks and her mannerisms. I know, I know some people might say- “Well you just are being too sensitive” or “We were poking fun, no big deal”; but the thing is there’s a huge difference in being crass to being well being an asshole.
My second reaction was- “Well did this woman do or say something that caused this amount of behavior or words towards her?”. I took a look at her videos, and honestly it was not anything too controversial. It was just a young woman who lived her life and enjoyed making videos about various things. She even made several videos about how she lives with her autism in her life and while the comments were better than other videos- there was still an overwhelming amount of bullying on those making fun of the fact she had autism, with an insane amount of likes on each rude comment.
I get it- just because someone may look or behave differently than what we may do, we should treat them just as we treat anyone else. But that’s not an excuse to go ahead and be mean “just because”. The thing that made me even more sad was who was doing the commenting. Most of them were adults doing this!
This was the saddening part as these could have hypothetically been people about a year ago I very well could talk to about some current event. This got me thinking about internet culture- from memes to the variety of slang…is ‘mean’ becoming part of the culture too?
This can be seen in Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as well too- I have noticed when someone says the slightest thing everyone puts their arms up and calls them a variety of names, makes fun of the way they look, or in some extreme cases- finds their personal information and puts it out there.
This is an ugly, ugly behavior that needs to be addressed more. We shouldn’t value being terrible to one another simply because we disagree. Some things need to be addressed, because like I said the internet is at our disposal and that means you are probably going to run into a variety of people from different backgrounds. But there’s a time and a way to address it.
I am sad that I can no longer enjoy some platforms and connect with individuals on those platforms I used to. I hope in the coming years the teenagers and children part of social media see these actions and recognize this is not the way to connect with people or form dialogue. There is no concrete solution to this problem but talking to our kids about actions online is just as important as talking about what they do offline.
In a connected world, we are so often exposed to a wide variety of stressful and discerning situations. Let’s set the example for the younger generation that even in the moments of hostility we can keep a sense of civility with one another. Internet culture is quickly changing day by day and while ‘mean’ may be the trend that’s in, the staple is respect as it always has been.