The recent election has stirred-up a lot of strong feelings for people, and the fallout continues. Just to be clear: I am no angel when it comes to controlling what I say in online discussions either, particularly when I’m upset, especially when I’m responding to something that is offensive. Here’s the thing though: even in places where the election isn’t discussed, even in years before this election, just about every YouTuber I follow has needed to post something imploring viewers to speak to them and each other online like human beings.
Beauty vlogger, Stephanie Lang, posted a video recently called I Hate the Way I Look where she shared some screen shots of comments she gets from viewers when she posts videos where she spends part of the video not wearing makeup (for example, if she’s demonstrating how to conceal large pores.) Some people watching the video actually posted comments like, “You’re so ugly, you should just kill yourself.” Really?
In what universe is it necessary or helpful to say something like that?
I understand that currently, the leader of the “free” world has set a low bar for standards of how people speak to each other, but that doesn’t make online hate-mongering acceptable.
For what it’s worth, please don’t take any of this as me claiming I’m superior because I’m not. After seeing video after video addressing this issue, and the particularly poignant one Stephanie put out there, I’ve resolved to never say anything remotely nasty online ever again–this is huge for me. Admittedly, it remains to be seen if I can stick to my own resolution 😉
One thing that doesn’t help at all is when someone puts nasty comments out there to begin with. It’s important to be mindful that whenever you write something that someone else is going to read, the message is going to feel harsher than the way it was originally intended–usually. With web comments, you have no way of knowing what kind of day the reader has had or what life experiences they bring to your comments, and nobody is saying you need to know any of that because how could you? However, when something is inflammatory, for example, if you call anyone who disagrees with you about say, oil pipelines a “Social Justice Warrior” or worse yet “libtard” that’s not going to do much to elevate the level of discourse. When I blow up at someone over those comments, I’m just as wrong, but it would be less likely to happen if name calling weren’t in play to begin with.
Life is hard and I think we all need more kindness and consideration wherever we can find it. Today is a good day to stop, take a deep breath, and think before leaving certain comments. I’ve recently had to ask myself, “Do I really need to be on this message board?” after someone blew up at me for leaving a completely anodyne response to a post she wrote about unification. I had a lot of things I wanted to say to that person, and they weren’t nice. Then I realized that I spend so much time online and I have so much material that I need to wade through, read, and respond to. Why stay engaged in something that just annoys me and isn’t necessary? So I deleted that account, and I am so much happier now.
I think a lot of us are more “activated” than usual right now, and it’s impossible to always be on our best behavior in times like these, but hostility isn’t helping anybody, and words hurt even if we’re told they “shouldn’t.”