All too often, we find ourselves on the receiving end of keyboard warriors. I suppose we can thank the wonderfully toxic world of social media for this.
I sometimes wonder if the ideology behind ‘freedom of speech’ has gone too far and been misunderstood.
Sure, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but sometimes taking to the keyboard in a fit of rage isn’t the best thing to do. Not only are harmful comments public, but they can impact someone’s mental wellbeing more than we might think.
In a society where openness about mental health is ever expanding, it’s saddening to know that there are people willing to bring others down for their own personal satisfaction.
Speaking from personal experience, receiving online hate about the way I look only brings a smile to my face. In a sense, I feel sorry that someone has decided to waste their time criticising me, because I know it will have absolutely no effect on how I see myself because I’m in a happy place surrounded by the best people.
However, the impacts of online abuse can be far worse on an international level.
Let’s take Love Island for example.
Millions of people tune into their televisions at 9pm every night throughout summer to watch this programme.
I think it would be fair to say that this year’s contestants received a plague of online abuse after returning home from the villa.
For example, Curtis Pritchard.
Prior to entering the villa, Curtis and his brother, AJ, had already been on the receiving end of violence. The brothers were assaulted outside a Cheshire night club by a gang of eight. Both brothers were injured, resulting in Curtis requiring surgery on his knee.
When Curtis left the villa with partner, Maura Higgins, after placing 4th on the show, the amount of online abuse he received was shocking. Particularly on this Instagram post:
The comments are awful. It horrifies me to know that people have no awareness that their remarks have consequences. Sure he’s wearing makeup for TV, so what?
Are the suicides of former contestants Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis not enough to make people aware of the influence online abuse holds?
This year has been no different. One only has to look at some of the headlines written about Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury to see them littered with claims that they’re “fake.”
Like a lion hunting a zebra, online abuse stalks every post.
Last night, the following post came up on my Facebook feed:
At first glance, I thought to myself “Damn, I wish I could do my makeup as flawlessly as that.”
Then I looked at the comments:
My stomach turned. Honestly if you’ve got nothing nice to say then don’t say anything! Just imagine the impacts this might have on the model.
It’s like having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The angel encourages us to be kind, but is overruled by the devil of negativity and hate.
I am willing to bet my student loan that if these people were on the receiving end of their comments they’d be upset.
Treating people how you’d like to be treated is so important.
Let’s move on to talk about some of the headlines written about celebrities. For example:
As a trainee journalist, I’m very familiar with writing headlines that captivate audiences.
Why does it matter that Michelle Keegan flaunts her “tiny waist” whilst heading to the gym? Why does Carol Vorderman’s figure in “skin-tight leather trousers” matter so much?
Well, these key phrases draw in audiences like a spider on its web. If I were to re-write the first headline: ‘Michelle and Mark go to the gym’ it’s suddenly very boring and dull.
It’s the emphasis on her figure that draws in audiences and opens the door to criticism.
Fact is, Michelle is going to the gym wearing leggings and a crop top and Vorderman is wearing skin-tight leather trousers because she wants to.
Ultimately what I’m trying to say is think before you type. Online comments hold more negativity than we may realise. Online hate is one of the reasons so many suffer from anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.
Public perception kills. You only have to look at the tragic suicides of former Love Island contestants to know this.
It also serves as a notice to be kinder to people because you never know what’s going on inside their head.