We live in a world that is rapidly becoming an entirely digital landscape. The majority of what so many of us do daily, both for work and for play, is either done completely online or at least arranged via some form of social media.
As wonderful as this development is in terms of the interconnectedness it affords us, that feeling of connection comes at a cost. The digital age has opened up an entirely new form of bullying and hate, one that seems to be becoming substantially more vicious by the day. “Protected” by our computer screens, more of us now seem to be willing to regularly spew racist, sexist, homophobic, or other prejudiced sentiments – sentiments which we’d probably never even consider expressing in person.
To help combat this, the Lithuanian website www.svetimageda.lt conducted and filmed a social experiment in which people were asked to translate a hate message for a complete stranger. The video was released to promote their website, which is a digital handbook on how to react to racist, homophobic, and other forms of media based hatred. The subject’s reactions are quite powerful, check it out:
“It’s Very Difficult To Say Looking In Your Eyes”
It’s that statement that stood out to me the most from this social experiment, because it encompasses the disconnection through connection that social media seems to offer some of us. It allows us to say something hateful to someone without ever having to deal with either the inherent difficulty in saying these things in person or the consequences of doing so.
What’s worse is that through social media being a bully has even become popular. People will do anything for the like or thumbs up. Think of how often you see the top comment on an article, video, or post being someone making fun of someone or something that it involves. Would anyone ever dare do that if they had to say it in person?
Be Mindful Of What Behaviour You Support
Even if online bullying is something you never directly participate in, let this video encourage you to be mindful of what you choose to support on social media. Keep in mind that even a simple “like” can do just as much to support online bullying and hatred as the comment itself.
We all have our challenges in life, and a great rule of thumb is to practice empathy. Before hitting send or clicking like, take a second and think about how you would feel if you were the recipient of that comment or like.
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