Have you ever noticed how even the most mild mannered person can turn into a screaming lunatic when you get them behind the wheel of a car? Well it seems the internet is having a similar effect on people.
Recently I have come across some nasty instances of cyber bullying or harsh judgemental attacks, and I refuse to believe that there are really that many rude people out there. I think the relative anonymity afforded by the internet comments and rating systems gives people free rein to let out all their personal frustrations on others who are simply sharing their art or feelings.
Kirstyn McDermott said it beautifully in her blog post about a girl who (possibly naively, possibly as a marketing stunt) had a go at someone for giving her book a ‘bad’ review. The personal attacks she has suffered are completely out of proportion to what she did and her Amazon rating has been trashed.
Rebecca Black released a song with rather silly lyrics called ‘Friday’ and as a result she has been subjected to abuse and death threats, death threats! But it doesn’t even need to be that extreme, just read the comments at the bottom of any of the Woman’s Day True Confessions and you will see people condemning others based on a 500 word write up of what is usually a very complicated and painful situation.
It is heartening to see that in all these cases you also see other anonymous warriors in the comments line-up defending these people, but it is sad that it only takes such little things to fire people up to the point where this defence is needed. Criticism is just a form of opinion, which by definition can be neither right nor wrong, so it should be offered as such.
I remember not so long ago a song was released that made me want to rip my own ears off each time I heard it, I won’t tell you what it was, but it involved a frog whose sanity was in question. Did I threaten the producers of the ‘song’, did I send hate mail? No, I turned it off if it came on the radio, and I certainly didn’t buy it so I could give it a bad rating. I also, grudgingly, acknowledged that for some people it was not a torture to listen to it, so perhaps it did have a place in the world. Just not my world.
So far I’ve been lucky enough not to be subject to this sort of attack, but unfortunately it seems that anyone who puts themselves out there for long enough will eventually suffer this fate. Some even call it a sign of success. I would ask you though, next time you are so fired up to want to leave a critical comment somewhere, just think about how you would say it if you were talking to their face? Perhaps if we all did this then comments would be more about how to fix problems rather than pointing out perceived errors and the assumed character flaws that led to them.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now!