“I can be bad to bad people” and why this mindset is ruining society.

Recently, I’ve noticed an issue with the way society chooses to deal with social issues and their propagators. I’ve watched as the global online community, as I’m going to call it, has turned the act of defending rights into an offensive tactic, seeking destruction rather then resolving it.

And it needs to stop. We’re creating an ever more toxic society than the one we think we’re erasing and I truly believe that many social conflicts are not on track to diminish in any capacity in the near future.

The problem is not that we don’t care about these issues, it’s that we’re attempting to tackle them in the wrong way. In my perspective, the ideology that we can combat social issues through destruction and digital violence will never lead to a resolution of these issues and I’ve highlighted the main reasons I believe this is so.


1. When we’re wrong.

The most obvious and, in my opinion, prominent reason as to why the concept of viciously attacking ‘bad’ people is that being ‘bad’ is subjective.

We don’t consider their perspective, we just attack.

Obviously, I’m not defending inherently ‘bad’ acts, but for a second, contemplate the situation. It’s no rare occurrence for society (especially through social media, more on this later) to attack individuals wrongly. That is, attacking people for what they haven’t done, or what they did do but in a different context.

For example, let’s consider Justine Sacco. Early in 2013, a PR manager named Justine Sacco made this tweet before a flight:

Don’t freak out just yet.

As you can expect, social media went into a riot, attacking her violently verbally with seemingly no restraint. By the time her flight landed, the world was still mocking her and she was long unemployed.

One attacker even remarked that she deserved to be raped, however this was excused by society because they were only being overly profane to attack an overly profane person, right?

More on Justine Sacco’s experience here:

Watch this, it will open your eyes.

What’s my point here? Justine Sacco isn’t racist. In a later interview with journalist Jon Ronson, she stated:

Living in America puts us in a bit of a bubble when it comes to what is going on in the third world. I was making fun of that bubble.- Justine Sacco

So she intended this to spread awareness, interesting. She was on the activist side of the argument, being attacked by activists.

This is a clear example of when society gets it wrong, where we wrongly targeted someone and effectively ruined their lives as a result. But why? What did we gain?

The mindset that we can just tear apart and destroy anything that goes against the views that we have outlined as correct is inherently ridiculous and will only lead to more cases such as this. Social justice destroyed a lovely woman’s life simply because she was interpreted incorrectly.

Through this whole point, what I want to highlight is this question:

Do you want to live in a world where you’re constantly in fear of being interpreted incorrectly?

But this is just one of the reasons why hatred should have no place in a social justice space.

2. It doesn’t help the situation

Let me present you with an analogy.

Imagine that the world today where human rights were mocked as something so ridiculous that it could never truly become a reality. Imagine every time someone posted on social media supporting human rights, a snarky journalist would draw attention to it and send a wave of angry anti-human rights activists to that post.

The key here is: If you were that human rights supporter, would this fuel you to continue or extinguish your fire?

The way I see it, this is exactly what we are doing in real life. Regardless of whether a perspective is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, if someone strongly believes in it, then using hatred, violence and degradation won’t stop them. It wouldn’t stop me, either.

→Understand that hatred works both ways.

One thing we all need to grasp is that hatred is a weapon that anyone can use. What I mean here is that while you and your supporters ridicule and attack another, they are doing the same to you. You remark that they are ‘stupid’ or simply ‘do not understand’, but they think exactly the same thing. You likely haven’t impacted their views in any meaningful way through hatred, because you just sound unreasonable and ridiculous.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that some people benefit from having that violent and rough awakening to reality, but for most being attacked for their views only pushes them further into that perspective as they fight to defend it.

So exactly what did you change or affect by telling that one sexist to kill themselves on Facebook? Or by spamming swears into the direct messages of that racist? Did you just do it to congratulate yourself and receive similarly worthless praise from those who agree with you?

Yes, it’s great to create a societal standard of respect, and as such frown upon disrespectful acts, but if you’re being disrespectful while criticizing someone else for disrespect, that’s hypocrisy. After that hateful interaction, both you and your target are left still full of anger and more hatred, so what did you achieve?

Ask yourself these questions and think:

What is the benefit of my hatred?

3. It’s too easy to do damage.

I think that a lot of this issue comes from the fact that it’s simply too easy to join the herd. As we can see in the example of Justine Sacco, people are quick to jump on the bandwagon and forget about any consequences for the person they are attacking.

Once again, I’m not defending people that actually do things that are wrong. What I’m saying is that many times the collective concept of social justice gets carried away.

We knock people down and then keep swinging when they’re already down and pleading.

But we don’t think about this. It’s so simple to join a trend and post hateful things on social media, but we rarely consider what we’re actually doing. We forget that while you individual jab isn’t too damaging, but the collective smack in the face hurts. A lot.

So how do we fix this?

The key to ‘fixing’ this issue is to ‘fix’ your mindset and then to encourage others to follow suit. Read through this post again and consider which parts relate to you. Ask yourself some of the questions posed in this story and guide yourself toward resolving issues in a more peaceful way.

Above all, remember that a conflict will never end if you keep attacking.

Please recommend this post and reply, let’s start a discussion!