Social Media Has Turned Us Into A Society Of Bullies

A person types at their macbook
Unsplash / Courtney Recker

We need to talk about cyberbullying and its many forms for they’re all equally harmful. If the Internet had an official language, I’d dare say attitude is the first, whereas pornography, the second.

Some people claim I am sarcastic by nature. Sometimes it’s just easier to respond with a soft mockery instead of stating the obvious or going on a long rant about something. However, my love for this kind of rhetoric is on decline and oh, the irony… I’ve noticed some negative things that come with its constant use.

Whenever I open social media and find a person abusing sarcasm in order to make a political, social or merely a personal statement, I roll my eyes and sigh. I know there will be at least another twenty people doing the same as I scroll down. Suddenly, the Internet feels like high school again. Everyone is aspiring to become an edgy teenager who turns everything into the butt of a joke for the sake of approval (now in the form of a few likes and retweets.)

In spite of the fact I absolutely love Ron Swanson and Chandler was one of my favorite Friends character, I gotta admit this sort of behavior gets old in real life. There is a chance mass media has been labeling this as something cool, without predicting it would get out of hand. Perhaps Gregory House is to blame? Oscar Wilde once said “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” and it’s never felt so true. We were all dragged into some sort of Comedy Club for a birthday party, except the routine has been going on since 2007 and it totally sucks.

Important discussions suddenly became stigmatized because of the overflow of saltiness and attitude surrounding it on social media. Instead of raising awareness, they caused the opposite effect, and nobody is listening anymore. Sarcasm is a double-edged sword. It is fun, but doesn’t make anybody right or any smarter, especially when it becomes an alternative tool to channel aggression, a weapon used to diminish someone.

However, sarcasm alone isn’t the issue. The world’s concept of mob justice has been replaced. People are no longer burnt at stake but you can bet there’s definitely someone out there tweeting about having your head paraded on a pike.

On that note, Duchess Catherine (aka Kate Middleton) is expecting her third child and, unlike Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian’s pregnancies, this time the Internet wasn’t broken — it was filled with hate. Since hatred per se is no longer socially acceptable, people are now making up excuses to justify their feelings and sell them as valid by holding in account something their target(s) did or didn’t do. But the problem is no one gets it — this emotion shouldn’t be justifiable at all. Hatred on a large scale has never contributed to mankind in any positive manner.

I don’t want to be an idealist and preach unconditional love — there are a bunch of people I strongly despise, famous and not. But none of them could ever destabilize me to the point I need to remind the world about it every other hour, nor do I advocate for their deaths.

There’s absolutely no point in telling people to suck it up either. It’s hypocrisy to complain so much about global warming and the legacy we might leave to our future generations while we keep on ruining the present for everyone else. We are depriving other people of their humanity — that is a growing trend and that is scary.

Salty people on the Internet, I am talking to you: people aren’t fragile, it’s you who is inappropriate. It doesn’t matter if your aggression comes in the form of a simple remark or long rants masked as an intelligent critique.

You can’t possibly expect to mock individuals based on their looks, skin, gender, sexuality or religion (whatever those are, no exceptions apply) and expect them not to be offended. You can’t possibly expect to act as a judge and inquire someone without making them defensive. You can’t attack someone’s self-esteem and expect them not to be hurt. And it doesn’t matter if you’re targeting Brock O’Hurn or a random overweight guy on Instagram, there is no difference.

Yes, the world is tough and people need to learn how to stand their own ground but if you weren’t hired as their coach then you are simply toxic. Yes, you. It’s easy to judge and blame others without recognizing we might be the issue sometimes.

Like many, I was bullied at school. I was picked on for being different and got physically assaulted on a few occasions. I turned out quite well as I grew up, but I’d never say bullying was a positive factor, no matter how hard I try to look at it in a bright manner. Unlike me, many other people couldn’t handle it well. Some took their own lives, some were scarred to the point that those experiences exercised a significant influence in their mental illness, eating disorder or negative body image.

If you still can’t feel for other people, not even a tiny bit, then remember that whenever you make use of the Internet to spread hatred, you validate the bias of many that freedom of speech is bad. Advocating web neutrality becomes useless whenever you do so. You’re losing one way or another.

But I get it, you’re not responsible for anybody’s well being. Yet if you simply choose to go around harassing others you’re revealing a lot more about yourself and the empathy you lack. If your friends agree and back you up when it comes to this sort of thing, I’m afraid they might be just as toxic

Besides, this sort of toxicity will eventually bite you in the tail; you will get poisoned. Tomorrow it could be a screenshot of that conversation you had with your ex getting shared worldwide, it could be your nudes getting leaked, it could be your Twitter account getting spammed with negative comments about a mistake you made, it could be you getting painted as the next Loser or The Devil itself. Everyone is a potential victim — mob mentality won’t spare anybody.

Instead of attacking individuals or groups, why don’t you sit down and ponder the reasons you can only see the world in a negative light? Why is it that likes, shares or a short laughter are more important to you than another human being? I know this is a cliché, but strive for self-improvement and being different from the ones you dislike instead of challenging them all the time, especially if unsolicited.

You are definitely allowed to have an opinion, yet verbally assaulting people isn’t going to change the world, you’re not doing it justice. Creating a full cycle of hate is the opposite of building a civil, healthy and respectful environment for people; it actually makes us all sick and unstable because this invasion is too constant and coming from everywhere. Is that the kind of imprint we want to leave in our society? That it’s okay to expose and bully people? That we should take matter into our own hands and retort to violence? It’s about time we stop promoting toxic behavior.

It’s uncomfortable having to remind a grown up about this, but next time you see someone you find unattractive, not funny, lacking talent or if you simply disagree with them in a certain topic, either offer them constructive criticism or move on. If they’re doing something illegal, contact the authorities. Don’t feed bullies with attention either. Stand up, keep in mind there is another person across the screen, regardless of the fact you don’t get along. You have the power to keep yourself in check. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. TC mark

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