And how it makes people brave…
We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Said something on social media that we would never even consider saying to another person’s face. We do it all the time. Sometimes, this is a good thing, and can be cathartic, but other times, it can be not only negative, but detrimental to our, or another person’s mental health.
We’ve probably all experienced it, the feeling that comes when we read something online about ourselves that isn’t very nice. We see it all the time, particularly when it comes to celebrities.
This seems particularly true when there is an event on, which a number of celebrities are attending. Best dressed lists? Worst dressed lists? I wonder if the person that decides who is going to be on the worst dressed list would actually go up and tell those people to their faces that they were going to be on it.
The internet (and while I’m not knocking it, because it isn’t the internet that is bad, but the way that some of us use it), has spawned an entire generation of keyboard warriors, all intent to have their say on this issue, or that.
The thing is, that this form of communication removes the human aspect, reducing a large number of people to disembodied screens with no real feelings, and this simply isn’t true.
When we can’t see the person behind the screen, we can’t see the tears, or the look of hurt on their faces. We don’t see the hours they will spend awake at night, worrying, and we don’t see any of the after effects of our words.
This, essentially, is encouraging us to feel like we can say anything we want, regardless of the consequences for another person, and that’s not right. If this were happening in a school ground, it would be defined as bullying, and yet, in the adult world, it is perceived as okay, and anyone that might happen to get upset, is told to toughen up and that they need a thicker skin.
Of course, there is also the flip side of this, where people can use the internet to feel braver, because of anonymity, and here they are able to share things that they might not ordinarily feel able to share.
Things like the #metoo movement, have given people of all races, genders, cultures, and orientations, a voice, which they might not otherwise have had. And you only have to go to Post Secret, to see a place where people feel safe enough in their anonymity, that they can share some of their deepest, darkest secrets.
The thing is, that the internet, and social media in particular, are not inherently bad things. In fact, it reminds me of a slogan used in the US a lot. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, and while I’m not going to get into the gun debate here, because that is an entirely different post, I can see the truth in the statement.
A gun will not, on its own, engage and discharge itself. To do that, it needs a person to perform an action. It is the same with the internet. These sites do not generate and post their own content; a person is required for that, and herein lies the problem.
A friend and I were talking yesterday, and he said something to me that he’s said many times before. “It’s just a case of being a nice human”, and this is so true.
If we were to focus on being a nice person, then none of the hateful messages, articles and posts would appear online. The cycle of abuse would stop. And yet, it carries on, because somewhere along the line, getting likes, shares, and retweets, somehow became more important that just being kind to our fellow human beings.
Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.