I read two things this week about why nobody should be mean online. One was a pithy statement from Em Clarkson on Instagram who was responding to the “just don’t read the nasty comments” sentiment with “what would be better was if people didn’t leave the f*cking comments in the first place”. So true.
Then this morning I read this great article on Medium entitled “Why being mean online is never the way to go” and it put into words much more succinctly something I have been feeling for a long time.
This statement especially:
Whereas a traditional bullying incident might be witnessed by two or three other people, when we’re connected to, on average, hundreds of people, depending on which online context we’re talking about, it’s likely that many people will see this incident,
Maybe it’s because I was bullied at school that seeing bullying online makes me feel uncomfortable, uneasy and nervous, I don’t know. Of course it is entirely possible that most people won’t see what they are typing as bullying, they will see it as a venting of their opinion, of their frustration (especially when directed towards politicans) but does that make it okay?
No, I don’t believe it does.
I have made a very conscious decision over the past few months, even a year to only really share or say online stuff that is, for the most part, positive. I shy away from posting negative stories, swearing (I did say for the most part), rudeness and bullying and have begun to unfollow people who do that on a regular basis. I really don’t want to see it on my timeline.
Back in 2015 I wrote a blog post about online etiquette after I had seen somebody being particularly nasty online and I stand by every word of it still. Only now it feels more important because online abuse seems to be a daily occurrence, almost the norm for some people.
I have written before about bullying and how it still affects me decades later, specifically around running and why I would never join a gym because of stuff I went through as a child. It sounds ridiculous as a nearly 50 something to still have these hang ups, but the responses I got to that post showed me I am not alone. The same goes for people we point at and throw insults at now to my mind.
I am not talking about Trump necessarily as I don’t believe he reads his Twitter notifications so the millions of people calling him a cockwomble on a daily basis won’t dent his over inflated ego for a second. Posts in Facebook groups and threads on websites picking apart people’s lives? Yeah, that’s what I am talking about.
It appears to be justified by people saying “well don’t put yourself out there then’.
Surely that falls in to victim shaming territory.