Online comments won’t hurt, would they?
Popular social media usually have millions or even billions of users who are from all genders, religions, beliefs, emotions and …
These people gather around to share their memories, find new friends, get to know different cultures and people and much more.
But here, among all these people, as in any other society, there are some who want to cause chaos. So, these social media have to set some rules to prevent irregular and harmful behavior, but even with these rules, as there are too many people, too many posts and way too many comments to be handled by these rules, online bullying and hate speech are unfortunately growing every day.
What are the consequences to these hate speech?
Why does bullying keeps growing?
And how can we help stop this?
Internet wasn’t a normal happy place for a girl named “Lizzie Velasquez” because unlike many other girls, she was born with an extremely rare congenital disease called Marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome that, among other symptoms, prevents her from accumulating body fat and gaining weight. She could have looked like other people but she was different. This didn’t necessarily mean that people should look at her differently but they did.
When a video of her was uploaded on ‘YouTube’ with the title “world’s ugliest woman” everything changed for her.
The video was viewed over 4 million times and there were comments like “Kill her with fire”, “Why don’t you put a gun in your mouth and kill yourself”, “Her mother and father should have aborted her”, and …
The video which she saw and comments which she read.
One of the human beings’ instinctive emotions is anger. Anger often shows itself in conflicts, fights, misunderstandings and… in normal human beings but when someone’s childhood or even adulthood is spent in strict restrictions and limitations, the emotion of anger turns into a passive feeling called hate.
These people cannot usually speak for themselves or even express their anger in public or to other people. This is why they usually look for a place to empty their feeling of hate without any consequences.
Social media regretfully provides the perfect place for these people to act in any way they desire.
People usually think that the things they comment in the virtual world stay virtual and do not affect people in the real world, but they are wrong. Every single comment, every written word is read by a real person, a person with emotions just like us or maybe even us.
People think they can say whatever they want in social media without anything happening to them because there are no rules to prevent them from doing so or punishing people who comment hateful words and sentences.
And this is what happened to “Lizzie”.
Lizzie read all those comments and was affected by the words people said and the way they thought about her.
But she didn’t let words of the haters define who she is, who she can be, and the way she is going to live.
She decided to make the world more aware of the consequences of hate speech and online bullying. Words people said not only affected Lizzie but they also made her family and friends sad as words were directed to them as well. However, Lizzie was stronger than letting those words make her family and friends sad, so she stood against them and motivated the world to stand for themselves and not let what haters think and say define them.
Ever since she was dubbed the “World’s Ugliest Woman” in a video posted on YouTube in 2006, when she was 17, she has spoken out against bullying.
She first used the same tool as the one people who bullied her used. She started being a motivational speaker on YouTube, encouraging people, specially women, to know their strengths and define themselves using what they feel about themselves, not by what other people might tell them. She tried to help girls know how good they are to this world no matter how bad people might talk about them. Her videos were soon viral being viewed over 54million times, motivating and helping many people all around the world.
In January 2014 she gave a TEDxAustinWomen Talk titled “How Do YOU Define Yourself” in which she talked about optimism, inspiring all the audience in and outside the meeting.
She also hosted a social media challenge for National Bullying Prevention Month in 2015.
She has also written two books directed at teenagers, which share personal stories and offer advice. Be Beautiful, Be You (2012) shares her journey “to discover what truly makes us beautiful, and teaches readers to recognize their unique gifts and blessings” (2013). Another book, Choosing Happiness (2014), talks about some of the obstacles Lizzie has faced and how she “learned the importance of choosing to be happy when it’s all too easy to give up”. She has published much more motivational since 2012.
She began starring on her own Fullscreen original series titled Unzipped since April 2017.
But not all people are as strong and self-confident as Lizzie and these words hurt them so much.
As an example, a girl who we won't name, committed suicide because of her online friends calling her ugly and obese in an online group.
There are many more people like this girl, people who were victims of online bullying and hate speeches. People who lost their daughters, their sons, and their friends to this horrible phenomenon.
But what are we to do?
With the major improvements in the AI field, social media developers can and should recognize hateful comments and try to eliminate them from their society to keep their society a safe and happy place for their users. They also need to apply strict penalties for these commenters and even banish them from their community to keep this community a better place to be.
With all this, however, it is impossible to prevent events of such happening in our lives, unless we change ourselves and the way each and every one of us thinks.
We should create a better virtual world for ourselves.
As mentioned before people who usually comment hate speeches have mental problems which are usually rooted in their past.
If you see the need to post hateful comments with or without knowing the people who will read these comments, people who this comment is directed to or will affect you need help and you can have happiness back in your life with help from a psychologist or even caring friends and family members. After all, happiness is the only thing that will save humanity.