Think you’re tough with that keyboard broseph? Lots of people seem to feel that way. What drives allegedly normal, civil people to be so cruel? Everyone knows what anger feels like. But hate speech is running amok! WTF
What do Kristen Stewart, Chik-Fil-A, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, and Hell Pizza have in common? They’ve recently done some way reprehensible stuff. But what I want to focus on is how they’ve been targeted by all-out hate speech across the internet. People and organizations f*ck up. All the time. In the digital age this has apparently given the public eye a license to abuse these offenders.
This post is somewhat building on a recent post about the new-age ‘big brother’ that has grown from the internet. In that post I left off with a reflection of the online public’s role in shaming people who do stupid things. Lately when I read opinion articles or write-ups on the Westboro Baptist Church, for example, I’ve been more interested in response comments from readers.
“I hope you f%cking die…go to hell!…I’m making a trip to Topeka, hide your children.”
And then there’s the hate directed at Ostapchuk, the shamed shotputter who was stripped of her Olympic gold medal after she was caught doping.
Not to mention the memes that popped up, ridiculing Ostapchuk’s physical appearance and questioning her gender. Seriously uncool phenomena, a lot of which came from what Stuff.co.nz identifies as ‘small-town’ NZers. A celebration for Valerie Adams winning gold quickly went so nasty that some folks went out of their way to make pages attacking Ostapchuk!
I’m not defending Ostapchuk or Kristen Stewart or Hell’s Pizza. Yeah, shame on them for what they did. End of story! They have to live with their shame enough without every holier-than-thou out there chiming in.
What too many people don’t realize is the public nature of the internet. Separation by way of screen and wires seems to have built a myth of unaccountability. The guy who tweets to Snookie “wow, what a dumb b*tch” detaches from that online message when he leaves the computer. Would he say the same thing to her face? For the messengers, sending these attacks out into cyber-space detracts from their power.
If people thought of Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Reddit, and what have you as a face-to-face public arena, they’d probably behave differently. Even extreme abuse of the Westboro Baptist Church, some of the most despicable people on Earth…is it right to direct hate back at them? Hate begets hate, so what will break the cycle?
Civilized websurfers have the power to chill out when reading an article, post, or comment that makes them angry.
To leave on a lighter note that still relates, here’s a Jimmy Kimmel vid of celebrities reading out mean tweets. Enjoy!