I was introduced to the world of online trolling when I first saw Em Ford’s You Look Disgusting Video. I guess I was a little naive about the subject because I’ve never experienced it, or witnessed it first hand until the other day. I was scrolling through Instagram and when double tapping on a selfie I noticed a vile comment, which has since been deleted. Basically, this comment stated that this person thought the woman in the selfie looked “disgusting” and that – due to having lip fillers – “she had no inner beauty left.” I was gobsmacked.
From a young age I was taught that if you had nothing nice to say, you didn’t say it. It’s a moral I’ve always lived by and still adhere to. Yes, I see things online that annoy me, but would I leave a hateful comment? No. Just like I wouldn’t say something hurtful to someone’s face, I wouldn’t send a stranger a nasty message. I don’t understand online users that do. What do they get out of it? It’s totally alien to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a saint. When I’m worked up I’ll have a bitch with my bestie, but if I had a nasty option about someone I certainly wouldn’t voice it on someone’s social media.
When I was taught the mantra above the internet didn’t exist. I’m the generation that didn’t grow up with the internet. It wasn’t until I was about 12/13 that I was introduced to Myspace, MSN, Nokia mobiles with black and white screens and when unlimited data didn’t exist. So, this got me thinking – is it a generation thing? Does growing up with instant internet access change the way the way we view people online? Are we seen as just profiles and not people with feelings?
If I’m honest I thought trolling may be down to age because more and more young people have access to the internet via the latest technology and if they see a lot of trolling online without really knowing what it is, won’t they just think it’s the norm? On the other hand I can’t assume it’s just younger people because in the same breathe – having discussed this with others – they’ve personally found that the hate they receive online comes from the older generation, which just baffles me as they should know better.
It surely can’t be a gender thing? What gobsmacked me the most wasn’t essentially the comment, but that the fact that it came from another woman. I couldn’t believe that a woman was shaming another woman. Like, come on, as women we deal with so much sexism on a daily basis, like focus that energy on something positive like fighting equality not shaming another woman about her lips, ffs. We all have insecurities, so we should know better than to spit nasty comments that could potentially trigger someone to feel even worse about theirs. What’s that Mean Girls quote? “Stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” Whenever I see girls hating on other girls, I always think of this. We should be supporting one another, not tearing each other down.
Personally, I don’t think gender and trolling sit together, and having discussed this with a friend, who receives online hate herself, we think it might stem down to jealousy. On Instagram we show the best parts of our lives, in some respect it’s an ever-growing feed of aspirational images. You know what I mean, have you ever scrolled through Instagram and wanted something that someone else has? Have you ever felt bad about yourself after looking on Instagram? I know I have and I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there that agree with me. So, jealousy creeps in and it’s a perfectly normal to feel jealous at times, but I think people blur the lines and express it in a way that results in hate and anger highlighting factors that may be they feel jealous about? I don’t know in my head it makes sense. What do you think?
I guess what makes it worse is there’s no authoritative figure online so people feel they can say what they want without any consequences. So, it’s a cycle that continues and I think it always will, which is so sad.
I didn’t intend to write a post like this, but it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now and I wanted to get it out. So, please let me know your thoughts – what do you think trolling stems from?
Sarah Jayne x
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