Edited to add: As I got a few few comments and questions I wanted to clear up any potential confusion [sorry for that!]. Neither have I personally been target of any online bullying nor is my post exclusively directed at any specific websites or forums though I do see a lot [like the threats mentioned below] of it happening on Instagram.
Warning ahead: Certain happenings go me thinking again and there are lots of words ahead. Yet it’s an important issue I feel all of us have an opinion on or experiences with.
Faith in humanity. It’s constantly shaken aback by incidents that make you doubt its existence all over the world. However, it’s not merely through actual terrorism. happening daily. Right around is in what is actually called $$ social $$ media but makes you wonder if some people leave their kindness at the login buttom or commenting form.
A few snarky comments aside I haven’t been victim of this very anti-social part of social media yet. But I’ve heard of and seen the reality of what is happening …
Gossiping and rumors.
Death threats towards people
The problem that can also be a blessing is: words are not just words. They’re powerful. Just like the unexpected surprise of a kind reader’s mail saying the enjoyed your recent post can brighten a bad day an accusing mail or overload of critical comments can turn said day even worse.
Think before you speak – the old rule applies still in the new age of social media. Or it should. Even if we disagree with others – and yes, I do occasionally, too – there are other options than hate. In fact, why not see it as a challenge and training for real life situations that enrage you: can you voice your criticism in a way that allows the other person a reaction other than tears and feeling hurt? A way that opens up a respectful discussion?
Truth is: yes, as bloggers we are opening ourselves up to criticism. But not all voluntarily. There’s no ‘social media light’ option: all the fun and community without the hate. If there was everybody would opt for that, thankyouverymuch. And: there’s [constructive]criticism and then there’s [hurtful]criticism. It’s okay if you can’t understand somebody’s choice and ask for their reasoning. But it’s definitely not okay to threaten to kill somebody’s dog [as seen on Instagram,yes] or the person herself [as read on a popular blogger’s media outlet]. Gossiping wasn’t cool in school and it’s definitely not on the much larger scale as the whole internet as your school yard. Or neighborhood.
In a food-centered social media world it’s not too surprising which topics leads to heated debates most often: diets. I’ll paint a slightly exaggerated picture for illustration of examples I actually witnessed:
If you choose to eat vegan/paleo/HCLF and talk about the amazing benefits nonstop you’re a superstar and have many devotees.
If, however, you do the above and suddenly notice you’re actually not feeling supreme anymore, hence decide to introduce a few non-diet-conform foods or – heaven beware – give up said diet for good: beware of the haters.
Once again: I talk about dietary-induced conflicts but the issue I’m talking about happens on a much larger scale involving criticism of people as a whole. Whatever you do and or/talk about – especially if you have a large following – you have to expect harsh criticism and bad rumors every minute.
What also makes me sad is knowing there are places/websites with the sole purpose of fuelling hatred and hurtful gossip. With the most popular one being the Lord Voldemort of the blog world I will not write out its name but I’m sure most of you know which forums I’m talking about. I’ll admit I’ve been reading up a bit every now and then there – curiosity always wins, right? – and became more and more disgusted. Like I said: criticism is one thing. But what these people feel they knew about others or try to find out borders on stalking. It is not normal to discuss somebody’s eating behaviours and doubt the truth of what they say or show. Not normal to make assumptions about a blogger’s family or the state of their relationships from a single picture of a few lines in a post. Not normal to discuss possble eating disorders or other illnesses of bloggers you don’t even know personally. Not normal to tear apart every post or comment somebody makes, dissecting it for some ugly truths worthy snarking about.
Everybody is entitled their own opinion? Absolutely, yes. But note the difference: everybody is entitled their own opinion not entitled unreasonable and endless hatred towards people of different opinion or living lifestyles you don’t approve of. But tnat is the reality of social media these days.
We’re all nosey, I get and admit it. But there’s a line to be crossed and it has been in many cases. Did you watch Mean Girls? It’s like that on steroids. Times ten.
If I was granted one wish for Christmas it would be for more kindness in the world. Or at least the world of social media. Especially as we know there’s a huge wonderful part of it, too. Let’s show the haters and the internet skepticals that love and respect still exist these days. We’re not that awful of a society and generation, are we?
Happiness-inducing today: Coincidentially receiving a letter from a fellow blogger. Call me old-fashined but real letters > e-mails any day.
Stay in touch!
Hatred, hurtful gossiping and even death threats: how do you experience this on social media? Share any thoughts you have on the topic.