Fighting the hate on social media
I rarely get angry. It’s one of those obscure details about me that keeps my blood pressure down and my spirits up. Especially when I’m having anything to do with the Internet.
Have you seen Twitter lately?
My boyfriend says I’m nothing short of awkward if I get mad. I stumble over my words. I make no sense. I also have a hard time not crying. Anger is a common emotion that, according to Wikipedia, is “related to one’s psychosociological interpretation of having been threatened. Often it indicates when one’s basic boundaries are violated.”
I can agree with that.
By simple definition, anger is “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” I’m not saying I never get annoyed. The fact that Kanye West won’t stop crashing awards shows acceptance speeches is like nails across a chalkboard for me. Food companies that continue to use cancer-causing chemicals to make their products make me cringe. I also can’t understand why TLC continues to air that show about polygamy in modern-day society.
Just a few that come to mind.
Certain aspects of life do cause me distinct displeasure. Those include, but are not limited to, any type of back pain, Ray Rice being awarded $1.588 million in a wrongful termination settlement this year, pot holes, politicians who block equal pay legislation, two spaces after periods and sinus infections.
Especially sinus infections.
I would definitely not include hostile in describing my mood. Although I have been feeling especially furious at social media lately. Since it first became an avenue for communication, I’ve been a fan. It’s hard to be mad at something you love. I’ve always thought social media to be fascinating. I’ve led discussions and presentations on how it can benefit a business and a brand. I have social media and blog freelance clients to whom I preach its benefits as a cost-effective digital marketing strategy and easy way to connect with customers.
When done correctly, of course.
Lately, though, all I hear is how terrible people have been on social media. Cyber shaming and bullying is the reason we can’t have nice things, people. Trolls hide behind their computer and smartphone screens and say everything they wouldn’t have the nerve to say to someone’s face. Social media is an easy and direct route to making others feel less than human. Even though people might forget, we’re more than just screen names.
Don’t forget we’re all in this together.
Just this week, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling had his own personal experience with social media trouble when he congratulated his daughter, Gabby, for making pitcher for her college softball team on Twitter. Because Internet trolls are creeps, a barrage of vulgar, sexually charged and completely offensive tweets soon followed. Curt was not amused. In fact, he likely felt the anger I do when I read comments that trash people online on such a consistent basis lately.
Then, as a protective dad looking out for his daughter, he took action.
He outed the trolls, many of whom were collegiate athletes themselves. One even worked — note past tense there — for the Yankees organization. He blasted the dudes behind making the nasty and sexually explicit comments in his blog (http://bit.ly/1BP23fW), and repercussions followed. There were firings and suspensions from school, as there should be. I’m as big of a freedom-of-speech patriot as the next journalist or comic. Words and my voice, and the right to share them freely with the world, are what put food on my table and help me achieve personal and career goals. But that doesn’t mean civility in my choice of words and respect for others as humans should fall by the wayside just because I’m free to say whatever comes to mind. I just wish people had more couth. Maybe keep in mind that old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
Works for me.
I can’t help but feel angry, too, about this week’s entertainment headlines that have ridiculous people fat shaming new mom and songstress Kelly Clarkson. She recently appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” to promote her new album, singing a duet with the comic and host, who is a big fan. She rocked her performance. That’s the good part. Her baby is less than 1 year old, and the trolls took to Twitter to mock her weight and appearance. Worst of all, some of the meanness came directly from a female British columnist who was particularly personal about Kelly’s baby weight. Kelly has taken the high road, responding in a Heat magazine article, “I’ve just never cared what people think. It’s more if I’m happy and I’m confident and feeling good, that’s always been my thing. And more so now, since having a family — I don’t seek out any other acceptance.” More power to her.
And less power to the people who can’t keep their angry thoughts to themselves.
April E. Clark doesn’t respond to haters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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