Editorial: Is Social Media the New Playground?
Picture this, a classic playground fight. "You're stupid," one kid yells. Another kid yells back, "No you're stupid." The first kid retaliates by saying, "I called you stupid first." Throw in a few "I am rubber you are glue" phrases in there and you have the classic playground fight. Sound familiar? This is what a comment thread looks like on social media and it is downright disheartening.
Internet users of the world, I think it's time we have a little chat. Things have turned ugly on social media and there is no excuse for it. We have turned something that is meant to be a way to be "social" into a cruel platform and a way to tear each other down. I think it is time to say this is unacceptable and change the way we approach social media.
As someone who has put herself out there on social media and on air I have experienced my fair share of insults. You come to expect it in this business and learn to not let it bother you. I have been called names, told my voice is annoying, called ugly, and a plethora of other insults. At first, they bothered me. Now I don't pay them any mind. This article is not about me, this is about society on a whole and how we have downgraded ourselves.
We immediately jump to calling someone stupid if we do not agree with them. We immediately jump to calling someone ugly if we disagree. We attack them, their families, and their appearances. We don't even know them, they are strangers and we attack them brutally. Why have we decided as a society that this is okay? Why have we adopted this holier than thou attitude?
The irony of social media fights is, for the most part, that they are unintelligent. The internet provides us a wealth of information at our fingertips. Anything you would ever want to know is right there for you to access. Rather than having a smart and courteous debate we revert back to being children slinging insults.
What are we gaining from calling someone a conservative/liberal snowflake? What are we gaining for calling a complete stranger stupid? If our children called someone half of the things called each other, they would be disciplined. Are we no better than children or are we worse? Is the old adage, misery loves company, true when it comes to social media?
We, as a society, have a general understanding that slinging insults is rude. We would never say the things we say online to people in person. There is a sense of power we feel behind the keyboard. We cannot look the person in the eyes and see just how cruel we are being. This makes social media a dangerous platform.
So before you respond to a comment or comment on a post you may not agree with, keep this one thing in mind. If your child spoke the way you are speaking to someone would you tell them they are wrong? Use this as your barometer on social media. Hold yourself to the same standards you hold your children to.