wings and things

Who are you and why are you so nasty?

I have a rather nasty taste in my mouth at the moment because I have been reading about some people’s taste for nastiness, or cyber-nastiness to be exact – well that’s what I call it anyway. A few moments ago I saw a lovely photo on Facebook (yes I am back on it!) of a black man reaching his hand out to a white baby.

I liked the photo and its caption and found it heart-warming. So I was surprised to read some very nasty comments and interchanges in response to the photo. Various critical points were made by some and phrased politely, but other people became quite hateful in their comments.

Lately I have been seeing more and more of this on the internet – people voicing nastiness with such ferocity it is breathtaking. Of course, with Facebook and WordPress and other social media sites, there are rules, but obviously this is almost impossible to monitor unless someone is being obscenely abusive.

The thing that most bothers me about this trend is the anonymity with which nasty comments, statements, opinions etc. are made. I read a couple of news feeds and often a human interest article will be attacked by certain readers and then readers will attack each other with no respect for the fact that we are all real people. Many of the nasty things written on social media sites would never be said face-to-face because in real-life, real-time situations, there is usually an expected decorum. Not so on the internet. Anybody can pretty much say anything they like to anybody else behind the safety of their computer or phone screen.

But why? Why do so many people expend so much time and energy on being nasty on the internet? I was the recipient of some rather nasty commentary on my friend’s blog the other day. The person commenting was not known to me so I was flummoxed by his passionate diatribe against my rather innocuous comment and he proceeded to crowd my friend’s post with long-winded speeches against me, and against my friend who rose to my defense. I responded a few times then gave up because I realized everything I said just seemed to fuel his irrational fury. I would love to recount the dialogue but respect my blogger friend’s privacy so suffice it to say that my initial comment had nothing to do with politics, race, gender or religion – ie. it was not an attackable comment!

The experience was a learning curve for me, so I am glad for it because it has made me even carefuller of my words than I already was – ha. But the main thing this experience showed me was what cyber-bullying might be like for a young person. One of the things this particular bully did was to make assumptions about me and to label me; when I didn’t immediately reply, he equated my silence with guilt; when I did reply, he launched another sermonesque attack. Even though I was astounded and felt extremely misunderstood, I wasn’t hurt – more bemused I guess.

But if I had been 12 or 15 or even in my 20s, I would have been profoundly hurt and affected. And this, I think, is what is so worrying about social media for our beautiful young people. If you read of cases of cyber-bullying and its effects on so many young people (including suicide), it is easy to brush this off as a passing phase, a bizarre incident, or ‘my kid isn’t on Fbook so s/he’s okay’.

I am not saying that my above experience was a case of cyber-bullying exactly. After all, I am an adult and I can take it. But if I had been a kid, I would have crumbled.


Commenting carefully

The other day I was terribly upset to read a post by a blogger friend that indicated she’d been hurt by someone’s comment. Since I had made a comment on her previous post, in which I’d suggested something, I was sure that I was the culprit.

So I commented again to apologize only to be reasssured that it wasn’t me. The relief was enormous but the experience taught me an important lesson and this is it:



Negative comments

In over a year, and hundreds of posts, I have been fortunate not to have received any negative comments on the blog. Until today.

The negative comment was uttered in response to my post about ‘doing the right thing’ yesterday.

It was personal, exclamatory and gave me a bit of a shock because I am so fond of this person.

Strangely, I welcomed the comment (better to get a negative comment from a friend rather than a stranger I guess), and, instead of deleting it, I decided to respond and make both comments public.

This has made me very curious about how other bloggers respond to negative comments. Do tell!