Thursday, October 27, 2016

Not Quite Hated In the Nation, But Still....

Last night we watched the "Hated in the Nation" episode of Black Mirror.  It deals with the subject of people who are targeted and hated by society because of something they've done on social media.

The show hit a strong chord with me, because I've been hated for things in the blogging world.

Now, fortunately for me, my experiences have been about a million times less severe than what occurred on Black Mirror. I've never been hated by nation or even a large community—just a very small group of people.  Still, the worst of my online dramas was very emotionally stressful.  It happened seven years ago, and I'm still not over it. I don't think I'll ever get over it, actually.

So anyway, I wanted to share some guidance and insight with the hope that a few people might read this.  Maybe it will make them think twice about joining a hate-parade. Or if my words don't reach them at all, maybe watching Black Mirror will scare them into rethinking their behaviors.

Here's my list:

1. Before joining a hate-parade, please ask yourself, Is the "hateful"-person actually doing something bad, or do they simply have a different opinion than me?

I am so disturbed by the fact that some people online can't handle opinions that differ from their own. Yes, I understand being upset if someone says they want to reinstate slavery. But if they don't like the same Universal Studio rides as you? If something like that troubles you a lot, please take a deep breath or two before writing out a response.

In my case, my very hated opinion was in opposition to a blogger's daughter (guest poster) who was harsh towards people dealing with obesity. I wasn't mean to the girl. I didn't attack or insult her.  I just stated my opinion. But in the eyes of certain people, simply having a different opinion is a crime.

2. Please remember that even if someone does have a shockingly horrible opinion—like they think it's okay to eat puppies—they still might be sort of decent...sometimes.

They probably have feelings, and those feelings might be deeply hurt. Speak against their opinion, but try to do it with more honey than vinegar.

Also remember that these people have mothers, fathers, grandparents, daughters, sons, best friends, siblings, etc.   If you're a parent, imagine that your child did or said something shocking and offensive.  Would you want them attacked by crowds of people online?

3. Please make sure you know a lot of the story before joining the hate-parade. In my case, there were people who gleefully joined the bandwagon, and I'm pretty sure they hadn't read my comment. The comment had been taken down not too long after I had posted it, and all that was left was the blogger and her entourages' angry responses.

I'm not saying we shouldn't believe anything without absolute proof. We don't always need to see things with our own eyes.  But I think we should ALWAYS keep an open-mind.  It's fine to believe and take one side, but we should keep some doubt in our mind. We should always remember there are two sides to every story, and the one we believe might not be the more honest one.

4. If you do feel passionately against something someone has said and done on social media, please remember there's a way to speak up without turning yourself into a monster.

You can argue, complain, and defend in a mature and fair way.

A week or so ago I said something controversial on Twitter about Game of Thrones. A lot of folks were unhappy with what I said.  It hardly stressed me out, though. Now that I think of it, I understand one of the reasons why.  Although people showed strong disagreement, no one wished me dead. No one encouraged me to harm myself.  They didn't pick on me for my nationality or religion. They didn't really insult me outside of saying some basic anti-liberal stuff.

5. If you join a hate-parade, please ask yourself whether you truly care about the cause or whether you're just having fun with the hating.

I say this, because hatred CAN be a fun and exhilarating emotion. It's passionate and exciting. It helps build a bond between yourself and fellow haters. Not only that, but it can distract us from our own faults.  You know....

Who cares that I eat too many animals abused at factory farms? That dentist shot a lion!

Who cares that I sometimes pinch people's butts at work. It's nothing compared to what Donald Trump has done! 

Anyway, yeah.  Hating can feel nice. I'll admit I enjoy it sometimes.  But I suggest, if we desire that emotion, we target fictional characters. We can start with Negan, of course.

6. If you're going to hate a real person, try to do it without sinking to their level.

For example, if you hate Donald Trump for judging women on their appearance, it makes little sense to focus on his hair style and skin color.  If you hate Donald Trump for making fun of a disabled person, it makes little sense to make fun of his sniffing problem.  Yeah. MAYBE it's a cocaine thing. But it could also be a nervous habit or a tic. (Have to confess I did enjoy reading Tweets making fun of this, but really. I should have been more sensitive) 

If you're angry about someone's behavior and want to bitch about it, fine! Sometime we do need to speak out against someone.  But when going on the attack, try to go after the things that matter. Before slinging the insults, ask yourself if you'd be bothered if a person you liked had the same traits. Before you make fun of the homophobic Twitterer for having big ears, ask yourself if you'd be bothered by the singer of your favorite song having big ears.  Tempted to ridicule the meat-lover for his bad grammar? Ask yourself if you'd make fun of equally bad grammar if it belonged to a vegan.

8. Try to have a heart and be kind, even with people who seem to really not deserve it.

Remember Daryl Dixon used to be a bit of an asshole, and now he's a lovable sweetheart.

And Hitler!  He was a horrible mass murderer in the 1930's and 1940's. Now look at what he's become—just a simple YouTube man who's extremely passionate about various TV show plot twists.

On that note, I leave you with this scene.  We should all think of it every so often.

If we were all more like Ilana, the world might be a better place.