We Need To Put The Breaks On Cyberbullying And Our New Internet ‘Mob Mentality’

William Iven
William Iven

One of my favorite pass-time activities is to go on weibo (a Chinese version of twitter and Instagram combined), it’s often interesting because people would share random pictures or funny anecdotes that cracks me up before I go to sleep. Lately I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend, that there seems to be a mob mentality of forcing people (especially famous people) to do certain things because “it is the right thing to do”.

Example one, during natural disasters and accidents in large scale, people would comment on Ma yun’s page, asking (actually, demanding) him to donate a large sum of money. In case you didn’t know Ma yun is the founder/owner of Ali Baba, China’s biggest online retail giant and one of China’s richest people. I found it ridiculous that people will have the nerves to force a multi-billionaire to donate simply because of his abundance of wealth, what’s worse is that they feel completely and utterly entitled to their demands. The mentality is that since you have money already, you should give more to the poor.

Same thing with a recent internet bullying case of celebrities during the Chinese military parade. The “popular post” section was filled with nationalist loyal citizens praising the country, which I think is perfectly fine, it demonstrates national pride and a sense of communal celebration. What is unacceptable, however, is when people go to celebrities’ homepages who hasn’t posted something related to the military parade, and claim that they do not support their country or that they are traitors to the country, the people are especially harsh towards those who came from Taiwan and HongKong (due to existing stereotypes of conflicts).

One female singer (Fanfan) was attacked by thousands of people saying that instead of showing off her babies’ photos, she should share about the military parade and express her national pride. I mean, I get it, part of me don’t like it when people do nothing but post photos of their babies all day. But the things about freedom of expression is that everyone should have the right to say (and post photos) of what they want, as long as it doesn’t infringe the rights and freedom of others. In this case, the singer is perfectly entitled to post whatever photo she wants and should not be labelled as a non-patriot.

We live in a world where it is so easy to be so harsh on people on the internet, because it is such an accessible platform to attack others without having to face any consequences or responsibilities. When people demand that everyone should think in an universal mentality, we are stripping away a fundamental human right to expression and to the freedom to live the way they want. No one ever said that just because a person is rich, he or she should give away tons of money to save the poor or needy. It’s a nice gesture if they choose to do so, but shouldn’t be forced by the public. Charity should not be a show, nor a mob mentality.

What disgusts me is this self-righteousness of the “weak”, of the “poor”. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being condescending to those who are actually below the poverty line or is hardly able to manage their survival.

The “weak” and the “poor” in this case are those in the middle class, with just enough money to get by but not satisfied with their current situation. Instead of ameliorating their own lives with skills and hard work, some have resorted to attacking others and forcing those who are richer/more powerful to do the “good deed” while feeling satisfied that they have chipped in by placing that demand in the first place. They are getting all the “credit” of being an patriot or a philanthropist while stripping away other’s wealth/resources and feeling like it is only fair. That is the most disturbing logic I’ve ever heard, yet millions of people are doing that.

Instead of saying that “Millionaire A” should donate a few hundred thousand dollars, why not take 5 dollars out of your own pocket? Yes, it’s not a lot of money, but it authentically came from you as a person, and it is you who’s contributing. Instead of posting a tweet about how awesome China is, do something to support the country. Words and comments are too light when it comes to the weight of humanity, if by saying words we can save the entire world then we would all be saviors.

But that’s not how life works.

With the power of freedom comes responsibility and too often people only remembered the former part of the sentence and not the latter. Social media gives people the platform to express their thoughts and opinions, but it can also be abused.

At the end of the day, let the singer show pictures of her twins, and let Mr. Ma live in peace with his wealth. At least they’ve earned what they are showing off, have you? TC mark

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