Just like 99% of the population that exists in my life, I spend a lot of
time on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The list goes on forever ... Well, that's just about it, to be honest. Maybe you could throw in Snapchat if you were dying for the list to continue but usually, I use those 3 sites. And let's face it the 1% of the population not on social media, always seem to be the type of people you wouldn't let near your children.
I can honestly admit that I feel ashamed when I think about writing these next few thoughts. But I must be honest, because if we don't have honesty in the blogging community, then what sort of Kevin Spacey/Harvey Weinstein/Insert Name Here hippie free-for-all is this?
My social media presence matters greatly to me. I really care how I'm portrayed online and how my friends, colleagues and let's face it.. even strangers see me and in return, their opinions on how I have been perceived. In one of my many sorrowful, teary, weekly chats I hold with my mother, I remember explaining my thoughts towards this topic and her response was asking me a question. If the conversation was adapted into a Hollywood, Oscar-winning screenplay, then it would be a lot like this:
INT - DAY - KITCHEN TABLE
MOTHER walks over to the paper towel roll dispenser, grabs 2 sheets, and walks back over to JOHN. While being Dabbed in the eye section by the paper towel, JOHN continues his story
I don't know Mom, My post has gotten 4 likes and it's been up since last night. And this guy who I don't really know, I've met him like... Twice. Well, he 'AngryFaced' it. And like.. Why would he do that? It was just a picture of the cat?
Oh, John. I don't understand this world. But so what if someone you don't know 'AngryFaced' the cat? You don't know him, so what does it matter? You don't care what strangers think of you, do you?
No of course not!
I had just lied to my mother. I do care what strangers think. And that is honestly (contrary to popular belief) one of the strangest things about me. I edit my photos in case strangers think my double chin is some sort of proof Aliens built the Egyptian Pyramids. I don't retweet Pro-Vegan memes in case my friends think I'm preachy. And I remove photos that don't get a substantial amount of likes to avoid looking like a loser.
I have spoken to a lot of my friends regarding this topic and was amazed to find out how many others share feelings of this nature. Apart from one friend who stated very sternly that he "didn't care how many likes he gets, and if people don't share his views they could go to hell". I suspect he was in fact lying and is actually the most self-conscious out of all of us. He might not be lying, I just choose not to believe that some people are so confident in their own thoughts and opinions. At this stage, I should usually say "good for him'. But I don't think that. If I have to worry that my thoughts are normal, so should everybody else.
*Side note. I'm currently using Grammarly and the word 'memes' did not flash up in red. Which means that is an actual word... Wow, welcome to the 21st Century.*
*Side, Side note. I don't pay for Grammarly so it might be trolling me into getting a -F on my homework for speaking like a yob. Or a 'meme-er'. Oh, so 'Meme-er' is where we draw the line is it, Grammarly?*
I was thinking quite hard about my self-confidence levels when it comes to my online persona. I was browsing facebook and some news sites trying to write a joke about Robert Mugabe (saving that one for another post), and I saw a viral video of a 9-year-old girl from America (I imagine) punching some objects in a vicious fashion.
Now it turns out, this little girl is training to be a boxer. Or she may already be a boxer competing in the infants bare-knuckle boxing camp (I imagine that's a thing in some states), I can't quite remember.
Now, I'm not a big boxing fan or know anything about the sport. But I would take a good guess at her skill level and state: she was incredibly good. She was light on her feet, punching from the waist and stinging bees. Or whatever Mohammed Ali said good boxers need to do. She had obviously trained from a young age and was hoping to progress into the sport at a professional level.
After I had watched the short clip, I clicked on to the comments section. I don't know why I did that, maybe I was feeling happy and I thought I didn't deserve to.
Anyways, the comments were horrible. The top comment came from this chap who I imagine to be in his 20's/30's. And he posted "I hope she spends as much time in school as she does boxing..". Alright, that wasn't "horrible" to be fair, but it really pissed me off. The first reason why that tickled my beetroot in the wrong way, was that she is obviously really into that sport. She obviously enjoys it, and I'm gonna take a walk on the wild side and trust the caption of the video and say, her dream is to become a professional boxer. Now one of the facts that we have learned from walking around on this planet is that not everybody is the same. Some people are more academic, and others more physical. Neither is better, as both are needed in society. So tell me the point in forcing her to be average at every lesson, rather than being allowed to be brilliant in a single occupation?
The second reason isn't really a reason, I just couldn't imagine being in a fun environment with the person who wrote that comment.
So I angrily shake my head in disgust and move on to read everybody else's opinions. Now the next few comments were from people, all grown-up, adult men commenting that her skill was lacking in certain areas. Now later on in this blog, I shall write up some content on the Anonymous theory within social situations, but this specific example is different. This human being, on the other side of a computer, in a different area of the world, is not anonymous. I can click on his profile, I can swipe through his photos, I can judge his family. I can now put a face to the name I have given him. This man is an Idiot.
Basically, I am huffing and puffing at civilians (who I can strongly infer from their photographs, are not boxers), calling out a 9-year-old girl for trying her best at something she has a passion for. And judging by the number of likes they had on their comments, that is the shared opinion.
I'm not sure if this is jealousy that they are not professional boxers or little girls. Or if they genuinely get pleasure out of putting someone down who they believe are lower than themselves in the social food chain. If I ever find out though, I shall let you know.
So, recently I went on a Derren Brown binge. I watched all of his shows in the space of a week on All4, and he had a show titled 'The experiment', where he gives a live audience control of a strangers' Friday night. They are given a good option and a mean option. Now there is strength in numbers, but it turns out being anonymous within a group allows people to bring out their secret ambitions and opinions where normally they would be held accountable. This allows them to be horrible and vicious towards strangers (for some reason) and get away with it. I believe this is similar to the mindset of evil commenters. They are behind a screen, being mean to a stranger that they will never meet and no one will ever find out. But even if no repercussions do emerge from this action, should we really be spending our free time doing this? We have ideas at why people are so vile to others over the web. Maybe they have a crappy life and the only way to get satisfaction is to put others down. But then, why is that a thing? If you have a crappy life, spend your free time trying to better it rather than dragging others down to your level.
To make the world a little bit of a nicer place, and to bump up the current respect I have for the human race, I would like to offer a helpful tip when online and are about to comment. If anyone reading could spread this message on, I reckon we could have serious movement in this field before the year is out.
If you are about to comment on a post/video/blog (especially blog) could you ask yourself whether or not the comment is going to be:
2) Productive and not horrifically opinionated
3) Well received
If the answers are negative to this little checklist, then I suggest saving your energy for another post. If the post/video/blog is spreading a horrible message, that person will not change because of a comment. And if you are the person spreading the badness around, then just stop and save somebody the teary meeting with their mum.
You may ask why I mentioned being opinionated when you are reading opinions from me. And I would give you credit for that, but let's face it, there are more hypocritical things going on in the world, and when it gets down to it, nobodies opinions really matter. We are a collection of 7 billion pointless mammals who just so happen to be self-aware.