The age of nastiness
By Shabna Cader
Yeah you, hiding behind that computer screen, I see what you did there. What gives you the right to bash someone via a mean tweet or nasty Facebook comment? I understand how easy it is to hide behind a screen where no one sees who you are, and voice your opinions with no care whatsoever or regard to someone's feelings or emotions. It seems pretty normal, doesn't it? Welcome, to the age of nastiness. It's real.
Being nasty in today's world seems like a common characteristic. It doesn't matter how old you are – whether you're a hormonal teenager or a frustrated adult – the underlying fact is that being mean is almost like being real. It's happening not just in Sri Lanka, but in every other part of the world. People like Donald Trump, Gordon Ramsey and even Simon Cowell, have made it seem that it pays to be rude, to voice your opinion even if it's harsh or crude, and that its okay to do so.
Hello, tweet generation
"I think it all started with the tweet generation. Mean tweets gradually became an 'in' thing and picked up overnight. Even Jimmy Fallon has a segment every now and then on his show that has celebrities and others alike read out mean tweets. It's a much watched segment of his show zand of course people laugh at the crudeness and make it seem popular. I bet the ratings for nights that show that alone skyrocket. It's become how the world works today, sadly so," said Nasreen *27
What makes the tweet generation or mean tweets so popular? The ideology of being behind a computer screen, typing out a thought or idea on to Twitter (or any social media platform for that matter) is easy. The increase in 'likes' or 'follows' boosts ego and indirectly encourages more nastiness. It's not just about being rude anymore. It's overall hate speech, bullying, internet trolling, mocking, harassing – every bit of negativity all rolled in to one!
Social media has normalized casual criticism and nastiness. Unfortunately but truly, social media has also created a lack of civility and empathy. You're not really making any true connections when you're having discussions via text or by posting an image on Instagram. How is it possible to really 'connect' with someone by 'liking' a hundred pictures by him or her, retweeting a thought, or even sharing a post on Facebook? These are real connections! These are....a waste of time in my opinion. I'm not saying you should immediately stop what you're doing and reevaluate your actions, but it's important to know where social media is really taking you and how using it has changed your life.
Even by meaning to connect one another, it has created a lack of the 'real' world and empathetic face to face conversations. Where do we go from here?
The reality of reality TV shows and whatnot
What reality TV shows are you currently binging on? There's got to be at least one. I bet the unnecessary and possibly fake drama is highly entertaining (for it is – watch one episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians and you'll understand) and you anxiously await the next episode in order to figure out if more crudeness or silliness makes way.
If you look at things from a marketing perspective, you'll understand that calm and collected conflict resolutions are a thing of the past and do not bring in good ratings. Watching a causal reality TV show with an everyday set up, no excitement or or no exhilaration of any sort can tend to be boring. You're not going to continue watching that are you? Why do you get hooked on to a regular TV show? Because incidents happen, there are fights, there are tears and there's a whole rush of emotions you experience along with it. It's the same with a reality show but in a far more negative aspect. It's the drama you thrive on, because the more drama means high ratings, which means more money and great success.
If it isn't a grand marketing scheme, then I don't know what is. From branding such reality TV shows also come a stream of other marketing schemes – clothing with crude slogans, accessories with loud and boisterous tag lines and even decorating items like posters, mugs and wallpaper that highlight rude remarks – and grab your attention.
Honesty is the best
"I believe that honesty is something everyone should possess but one need not be so aggressive. I say what I mean but if the circumstance doesn't call for being aggressive, then of course I'd be subtle about it but still stick to being honest. I don't see the point in covering things up for no reason but when it comes to unnecessary conflict of interest and thoughts, people can tend to take the coward's way out and say mean things via social media platforms. It's not nice to be mean to people," added Anu *29.
What does it mean to be nice in today's world anyway? Be it whether at your workplace or amongst your friends, or even between your partner, it's easy to led things slide and ignore a lot of hurtful comments. A casual "just forget it" or "never mind" is okay every now and then but when it comes to comments such as "suck it up" and "f*** it" it's hard to ignore the underlying brutality. Ignoring such remarks allows for negativities to fester and be harboured when and where it does not or should not belong.
Time for civility
When such negativities are harboured, it leads to a lack of civility and empathy. "People aren't always going to agree, right? But I think we need to agree to disagree and make it work. There's a complete lack of understanding when it comes to what's justifiable by being brutally honest and right out rude. That is due to the fact that more than half of the nonsense uttered is behind a screen. It almost feels safe to be rude and mean behind a phone or computer screen. No one can see you, no one literally judge you therefore and you can jolly well say whatever you want. It's easy to also thereby not have to think about whether you've just hurt someone's feelings or caused a ruckus. When you can't see any issue, it's almost like it doesn't even exist. It's all online. So how can it technically exist?" voiced Janith.
It's about time we go beyond our insecurities – learn to not lash back or cyber attack without any care. Social media has made it easy to respond immediately but it's important that we take a step back and reevaluate our actions in order to maintain some civility.
As humans, we need to reread, rethink and resist before hitting the 'tweet', 'post', 'like', 'comment' and 'send' button. Try it sometime. It might save you from a great deal of unnecessary unpleasantness.
* Names have been changed for privacy
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