Sunday, 10 February 2013

Understanding haters makes you greater (possibly)

Last week my friend shared on Facebook a heart-warming experience he'd had. Nothing extraordinary but he wanted to spread a little happiness. He received a handful of likes and comments. Later he wrote a throw-away disparaging comment about Keira Knightley and his comment box was inundated, the like button close to wearing out. Today he posted on Facebook that he lamented the fact that a negative post about a celebrity creates so much more activity than a heart-felt status? Are we people who trade in negativity and relish bringing people down?

I'm certain many column inches and online kilobytes have been dedicated to 'haters'. Songs, poems, sketches and cartoons have lampooned the 'evil troll' but I still wonder what makes people do it. What makes someone take to their computer, tablet or phone and write hateful comments about another human being? 

Be it a video of kittens, an article about a film release, a photo of a celebrity's new hair cut, why do all routes lead to someone posting their wish that the subject die by getting hit by the 18.50 from Reading?

I have low expectations of teenagers who have grown up in a technological age. Especially as, during your second decade, you tend to think everything you say needs to be disseminated to the masses. 

Some teenager sat in his bedroom saying they "hop u get cancor! LOL! #justsayin" is not really what I'm talking about. Clearly the kid is a tool and hopefully will either grow out of his tooldom or at least learn to hide it... like the rest of us.

My concern is adults because you expect them to know better. What could prompt an adult to put mean comments online? Is it that they've shelled out for a pricey computer and want to get their money's worth. "If I paid 900 quid for this thing, I'm gonna use it!". My suspicion is it comes down to the ego. 

Expressing your opinion, especially in a vitriolic way, is a way of keeping your ego intact. Every time you express your opinion, you are reminding the world and yourself who you are. "I'm the one that thinks Keira Knightley looks like a Vileda Super Mop, I'm the one who knows about Palestine, I'm the one who doesn't give a crap what Mark Wright is doing in America". We all unconsciously look for ways to keep our sense of who we are together and online posts are a way of doing so with little repercussions. 

However, people often don't see their opinions as such. They do not see that where they are looking from and how they see the world is coloured by everything they have experienced to date therefore they are unlikely to be seeing the world objectively and therefore probably cannot give factual statements on things that are qualitative such as how good someone's performance is or how nice a dress is. All you can say with any real truth is, I think it's good or I didn't like it. But what people actually do is say "Victoria Beckham sucks!". But often opinions are stated as facts. 

Commenting appears also, to be a subconscious expression of a lack of empowerment. 

People who are out there, achieving, creating and building and feel empowered in their own life tend not to need to bring others down. If, deep down, you feel your life amounts to very little, one way to make you feel better about your lot it to drag someone down to your level and make them feel shitty too.  We've all done it. When talking about someone you're envious of, you'll say things like, "well they're good... if you like that sort of thing". 

It's a weakness all humans exhibit but this is only because people are so attached to their self-created egos. If you saw your ego at play, at times, you'd be horrified. It'd be like watching a video of yourself drunk. You would watch it with gritted teeth through your fingers like a horror movie. "I did that, I said that. I wore those!".

And now Twitter means that you can make the comments directly to the individual concerned and receiving a reply is a shot in the arm for the ego. You use the celebrity to make you feel significant. Many people send positive tweets via twitter but so often it's used negatively and if they illicit a reaction they feel they have won. They got a reply and made a celeb lose their cool. I know of several twitter users who have been deliberately goaded by those seeking to prod them into reacting. They use provocative, sometimes sexist or racist language until they get the response they seek.

Perhaps because people see what they're saying as facts, they don't see that they've done anything wrong other than "preach the truth, sister!".

I made a vaguely comical tweet about Mark Wright and this woman, I believe she was a teacher, replied and copied Mark in with a mean addition. I reprimanded her for adding him and she bit back at me claiming she was just 'being honest!' She wasn't even addressing Mark in the comment. How rude is that. Perhaps there should be a new saying, Those who can, do, those who can't tweet. 

However, whist it's unpleasant, I do also feel that if you elect to use Twitter then you have to take the rough with the smooth. Some argue that the microblogging site is a necessary evil if you work in the entertainment industry and certainly there are thousands of celebs who use the service and benefit from the platform which allows you to address fans directly but many thousands or artists don't use it and it doesn't seen to have done them any harm. I doubt Michael Jackson lost any fans because he never tweeted what him and Bubbles had for breakfast that day. 

A well-known comic told me in detail about the moment he decided to withdraw from having an online profile. After getting into a drunken spat with a fan on Facebook which upset him deeply he handed over the running of his online life to his agent. He said it was the one of the best decisions he's made. That and going into comedy obviously. 

If you put yourself out there in the online domain, you don't have the right to not receive criticism but the way I see it, those dishing it out are vary rarely the creators in our society. They're not making an artistic contribution. They are hiding behind an online persona and shooting at those who have been brave enough to make themselves vulnerable and give something a shot. Yeah, you have the right to say what you say but really, do you want to be that guy?

 I just want to get why people do it rather than say it's wrong (although I think my position is clear from this blog) and I do think it's just about trying to empower yourself when you feel powerless and maintain your idea of who you are by propping up your ego through expressing your opinion. 

One day, however, I hope people will see that neither of these things are necessary. Your ego is just a device and is not real and you are already as empowered as you need to be. Trying to drag someone down is but a false solution. So sometimes, why don't we all try and be the bigger person online.
Perhaps we should all hug a hater. nah, fuck that. they're dicks. LOL. what the F do you know about Palistine?! Ah Kittens. #nohomo

1 comment:

  1. I think it's a dangerous point to think that it's only the persona that puts across all the hatred. Many people are happy to spew hatred under their own names because it's the target that has the anonymity.

    Let's face it, there's few - if any - of us that really know Keira Knightly, so having a pop at her is easy. Especially if you're feeling low.

    "They put themselves in the public eye - they're dependent on us, so we're just telling them what we think."

    Would you have a pop at the neighbour next door? Maybe, but not if you saw them and knew the reason they look like a Vileda supermop is because their shower has been on the blink.

    How about your mum? If she looked like a Vileda supermop [This space for rent], you'd be furious or apologetic or ...something.

    That's where I think it lies. It's not so much who you are pretending to be, but who you think they are pretending to be.

    Whole slew of negative comments? All of them trolls! of those trolls might be a guy who's just been fired. One might have just come back from chemo. One might have worked a 60 hour shift.

    And then there's the professional rabble-rousers. Scared of your persona, they want to take it apart. A handful of sockpuppets, made up threats and insults later, and they've made someone a no-one again.

    Once you can reduce your target to a non-person, it's easy to kick them. You don't even need to be angry.
    Really difficult to kick a person you know though, even if you wear a mask.


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