The anonymity of the internet scares me. It allows people to be the cruelest versions of themselves without having to worry about the consequences of their words. It also allows for sexist, racist, and all kinds of discriminatory behavior, most of which goes unchecked and sometimes even unnoticed, in a society overrun by "trolls." "Trolling" has become common place anywhere and everywhere that the public is allowed to comment. You can't scroll through the comments below any Youtube video or news article without seeing rude, mean, and even cruel words directed at the subjects of the posts, and just as often at others leaving comments. And yes, these trolls say the things they do just to get reactions and stir up trouble. I get that. But it's gotten to the point that you can't tell who is a troll and who is genuinely just being an awful person.
What stands out most to me, probably because I am a female, is the blatant sexist comments by men and women alike, directed at women, especially in videos. Regardless of the content of the video, if the subject is a female, the majority of the comments will be about her appearance, whether good or bad. As a female, I know how self conscience I am at times, just getting ready in the morning to go about my normal day. I couldn't imagine getting ready every morning with the knowledge that I'm about to film a video that millions of people will be watching, as many female YouTubers do. Because it is NEVER just about their content. It's about how they look. Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that men aren't judged by their looks in videos. Everyone that puts themselves out there gets judged on their appearance. Period. However, men are rarely judged to the degree with which women are.
I was watching a video from the Joe Rogan Experience in which he was talking to Iliza Shlesinger, a popular female comedian. In it she tells a story about a guy that she was friends with for a while and later dated. A couple months in she found out he had been telling her lie, after lie, after lie to the point that she realized he's probably a bit unstable. You can watch the video HERE but be warned her brand of humor is crude and often inappropriate. I made the mistake (as I often do) of reading the comments below the video. WOW. Just so you can get a small taste, here are a few:
"She's famous because she is a mildly attractive female that is doing something."
"This b*tch doesn't know that with that cute face and huge f***ing tits, that she was being played?"
"...she has a boyish lesbo personality that is not attractive..."
And yes, some of these comments could be from trolls just looking for attention, but that doesn't even matter. They still wrote those awful things! Luckily, Iliza seems pretty BA and I doubt she would take any of these comments to heart, if she ever even saw them, but crap like that gets spewed at women of ALL ages, all over the internet. As a woman who grew up in an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood in America, who always knew she had it pretty good, I have never considered myself a feminist. I have never seen myself as being less than a man, nor have I ever been treated poorly because I'm a woman. Until the last 5 or 6 years (when I started school at a liberal arts college), feminism hasn't even been on my radar. But it's when I'm online and I read comments like the ones above that I realize there it still a lot of sexism going on, even if I'm not personally affected by it every day.
Just think about walking down the street and having some stranger yell out to you "you have a boyish lesbo personality that is not attractive." Okay you'd probably laugh and wonder what was wrong with them, not you. But if it happened over and over and over again, how would that feel? Because essentially that is what is happening every day, to people all over the world. It just so happens to be taking place online, and not in person. But that doesn't make it any better. It doesn't make it okay.
I hope that people raising children right now, in an age where you can't get away from social media, are teaching them that this isn't normal. It isn't right to judge people you've never met based on something you see about them in a news article or on a youtube video and it certainly is not okay to objectify women based on their appearance, solely because they are women. I hope that cruelty on the internet gets better, not worse, and that females don't have to learn to develop a thicker skin, but that those judging them come to the realization that their words matter and have consequences, even if they're only typing them below a YouTube video.