Behind the computer screen, mouse in hand, we all feel safe. Without face-to-face interaction, there’s no fear of retribution or need for justification. Things said—or rather, “typed”—online are available for view at all hours of the day for the entire world. Even when deleted, online comments can be found by almost anyone. Some have lost job opportunities or been denied entrance into higher education solely based on online content.
The comments sections of most websites are filled to the brim with oozing negativity and hatred aimed towards complete strangers. Gossip bloggers are insanely popular, the king of which being Perez Hilton. Hilton, whose birth name is Mario Armando Lavandeira, Jr., rose to fame by blogging about celebrities and posting paparazzi photos of celebrities and adding his own, often vulgar, doodles. Within the safety of his makeshift online world, Hilton has become the unofficial voice of celebrity gossip blogging.
Hilton is a former employee of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and has since been called out by the same organization for his blogging tactics when it comes to LGBT celebrities. Hilton has often unofficially outed many gay celebrities and questioned the sexuality of many famous faces.
Kim Ficera of AfterEllen.com, wrote, “I have to question the character of a man who attacks others on such deeply personal levels, without provocation and for self-benefit, monetary or otherwise…If he’s emotionally incapable of exhibiting even the tiniest bit of compassion for closeted people, if he can’t be sensitive to the fact that coming out is a very personal decision and that the process can be difficult for some—especially celebrities—I feel sorry for him. If his juvenile behavior is his shtick, I think it makes him a much more pathetic figure, and one the gay and lesbian community should not support…If we support behavior like Hilton’s, we applaud shallowness, arrogance, rage and invasion of privacy, and risk becoming what we despise.”
Hilton is not the only person to use the Internet to spread negativity. Many Facebook comment threads often turn into a personal attack, with the commenters seeing who can use the most offensive counter argument. The Internet has become a place where any opinion that is different or unpopular is wrong and therefore deserves to be torn apart. Not to mention the author of said unpopular opinion is opened up to a world of negativity and brash attacks of his or her very personhood.
This is the new bullying. With the cushion of anonymity and lack of personal contact, society has turned the Internet into a place to spread negativity and hatred. Anything different or challenging of the status quo becomes an open invitation for bullies.
I often find things online that I do not agree with, yet I feel no need to attack the holder of the opinion because I believe that all opinions are valid. I cannot force my beliefs onto other people and try to convince them that they are wrong or are idiots for feeling as they do. Being unpopular or controversial does not justify a personal attack from behind the keyboard.
Let’s face it, the Internet can be an ugly place. A simple suggestion would be to think before you comment or post. Think to yourself, “is this kind or necessary?” There’s a human being behind every online post and as such they deserve a little respect. Think before you tweet.
Brittany is the Opinion Editor at UVU Review. She is a passionate little soul of a person. She is a senior at Utah Valley University and will graduate in spring 2014. With a background in addiction recovery and journalism, she is planning a career in non-profits. She can be found on Saturday nights hanging out with her cat Ringo Starr and watching Netflix. She probably tweets too much.