I was going to make a video about this, but I just cannot be bothered to be cheery on the internet right now…..or put on makeup….or comb my hair…. heh.
It’s easy to say a word in our day-to-day life and have it leave our lips never to return. Things slip, we are uneducated about a subject or context, we fall back on base instincts, or we’re just too plain ignorant to know any better. Hopefully most of us grow out of the stage that needs/wants to use slurs. Hopefully we raise our awareness about social situations, attitudes, rights, and ideas. Hopefully we recognize our mistakes, apologize if we need to, and move on. Hopefully.
The internet, however, is much less forgiving than the real world. The internet does not forget. It abides. Even if we’ve been really careful about removing things we’ve said in vain or in ignorance, the internet will find a way to ferret that information out and use it against us if it so chooses. The internet can occasionally be incredibly vindictive, manipulative, hurtful, terrifying, and terrorizing….especially if you just so happen to be a woman on the internet. Yes, the internet is a collective. I’m personifying it purposefully.
I have had my share of threats, harassment, slurs, and abuse flung at me in my time on the internet. Most of it, I’m sure, is just empty talk. I’ve never had anything terribly bad happen to me aside from some phone calls from people who didn’t understand that we were not best friends. Thankfully they eventually got the picture. I’m simply not famous on the internet to attract those special kinds of scary: the righteous or the stalkers.
Ms. Laci Green has unfortunately had that sort of harassment for something she said when she was much younger and less informed than she is now. When she was reminded of her words and the video, she apologized very eloquently, removed the content that she could, and rightfully hoped that would be the end of it. This was not the case. She has been inundated with hateful, terrible, horrible messages telling her to kill herself. She has been sent photos of her apartment building and other harassing messages from people. She has since suspended her online activity. She has been silenced.
What makes this sort of harassment, this vigilante justice OK to so many people online? I don’t want to throw the gender card here, but I feel I must. I have not spoken to ONE woman who provides content online who has not received many harassing or threatening messages or comments. It goes much further than “you’re stupid.” This is horrendous behavior that some people online find lulzy or justified because they’re talking to a woman or because that woman has said something “wrong” somewhere in the past.
This harassment is one of the reasons why so much legislation that would eliminate online anonymity. The only way we internet users can slow that freight train of censorship is by living like thinking, feeling human beings rather than vermin swarming over their prey. If we want to be taken seriously, we must elevate our discussions beyond vitriol and torment.