Hate On the Internet aka Twenty-First Century Stonings

I was just over on Caleb Johnson’s Facebook page (the young man who sings really great rock on American Idol) and I was FLOORED by the number of people who were berating him over his comment about pranking his co-contestant Alex Preston, when he made the joke about his peanut allergy. Although I do foresee a mention of it tonight and perhaps even an apology from him, I think it’s horrible that people think it’s alright to basically pummel him into doing it.There are some posts sprinkled throughout which simply state more or less that they felt the comment was inappropriate which is their right to do. However, to threaten to take him down and vote him off the show is completely wrong in my opinion.

To me, this type of behavior is twenty-first century stoning and it’s still wrong.Caleb Johnson

Now look, I cannot speak first hand on nut allergies but unless you live under a rock, you know how dangerous and deadly a peanut allergy can be. Was this remark/joke insensitive to anyone who has such an allergy? By all means yes. Do I think he had some malicious intent or said it to encourage any behavior which could harm his fellow contestant or possibly kill him? Hell NO! Is slipping up and saying something like this worthy of threats, mean-spirited and borderline harassing posts from angry peanut allergy sufferers or their families? I do not think so. This young man is under a full on attack by these people and I think it’s horrible.

Let me make one thing clear: Food allergies are no joke and anyone who has a food allergy or has a loved one who does–my heart goes out to you. However, attacking someone who obviously doesn’t understand it or who simply didn’t take this as seriously as YOU would have liked, is worse in my opinion.

The internet is becoming increasingly unforgiving but let’s get real here–it isn’t the internet; it’s the people using it. Every day I see threads or posts where people are attacking each other over things that make no sense. Just the other day I responded to a story on a news page where they were reporting on a plane that had to make an emergency landing due to a piece of the wing falling off. My knee jerk reaction and semi-sarcastic reply to this story was “Does anyone know how long it takes to drive to New Orleans?” I received about 8 responses from people who either chimed in with witty, semi-sarcastic answers or guesses and estimations of how long it would take to get there by car. I was actually hopeful that my silly post was not going to go down in flames.

I was so naive. One obviously bitter and nasty young woman replied, “Instead of asking on here, why don’t you make yourself useful and look it up!” SERIOUSLY? Make MYSELF useful. Okay! I replied, “There’s one in every thread. Why don’t you make yourself useful and stop judging people on the internet.” That was my final rebuttal to mean-spirited comments.

Hate, harassment, bullying or whatever term you choose to use has gotten ridiculous online. As of today, I have sworn off giving my two cents to anything I read on the internet which invites the general public to comment, unless I am saying something positive and acknowledging someone’s good news or accomplishment, OR I’m posting to a friend or colleague I am connected to. (Almost forgot “D’awwwwing at kittens and babies)

News sites or so-called news sites etc. can eat my dust. Life is too short to argue with mean people on the internet, who have nothing good to say and certainly do not have positive intentions when they log on. Life is a challenging enough journey without adding hateful stranger hurdles to the course.

Something has to change my friends. The only way to avoid hate and meanness is to turn away from it. However, for one minute try to imagine you are the one who is being attacked. How hard do you imagine it would be turn away from that and not feel BULLIED? I suppose we should all feel very grateful that every time we say something that could be deemed insensitive or offensive in some way, it isn’t in front of millions of people.

I suppose with so much anger and heat pointing in every direction, it’s just too difficult to turn away sometimes but we have to try. I’ll admit in the past I have taken on several of these hurdles only to end up angry at myself for allowing the hate mongers to get even a minute of my attention and make me jump.

If it’s too much to ask for people to TRY to be positive that’s fine but maybe we should all at least TRY to revisit dear old Mom’s saying from when we were innocent children – if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all.


6 thoughts on “Hate On the Internet aka Twenty-First Century Stonings

  1. I agree threats on the net are completely wrong. However, how long do we allow ignorance to continue. When people were racist and using bad words because of their ignorance, do we allow it? I mean, they were only kidding or joking around and meant no harm? Ignorance with food allergies can mean death. (Ha – just kidding) Bullies are just kidding around, right? No tolerance here.

    • I was actually agreeing with you. Did I say that wrong? I was talking about education versus bullying. He certainly should have been pulled up short because of a comment made in very poor taste. But I have actually seen people go so far when disagreeing with someone’s actions as to give out the person in question’s address and say go get ’em. That is not discourse.

  2. Yes!!! Watch out for the babies and puppies, though. I recently saw a little one napping with his puppy. Half the audience seemed to feel that the parents should have the child taken away for leaving him alone (Huh?) with the dog and the other half demonized them for letting a child “disturb” a dog and thought that the authorities should take the dog away and never let them have a pet again. The whole thing turned into a cuss fest between both sides. I just don’t get it.

  3. I wasn’t able to watch American Idol this evening because I was watching my grandbabies but apparently, Caleb gave a heartfelt apology and expressed he meant no harm. I believe the benefit of the doubt hand in hand with education goes far beyond anger and harassment. To address your comment Dee, I agree completely that there are instances when we as human beings must speak up against ignorance and hate. However, I’m referring to something very different which is attacking people for making honest mistakes, without giving the person the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to learn and grow from their errors.
    As I stated, the fans had every right to take issue with his “joke” and let him know that food allergies are not funny and can be deadly. I was referring to those who made threats against him and called him names, without giving it a second thought. Thank you both for your thoughtful responses. 🙂

  4. P.S.,
    I had begun to think that I was the only one around concerned with the way people treat each other online. Certainly most of these folks would not rise up and call everyone who disagreed with them awful names and threaten to cause them bodily harm if they were having the discussion in someone’s living room.
    If I were writing a master’s thesis right now, this would be my topic. It unbalances me.

  5. dohoco, trust me we are not alone. However, most people fear speaking out about it for the same reason it continues–retaliation. As an author, I am always in fear of offending someone, no matter how innocently because my career can be damaged greatly by anonymous hate as a way in which to “stone” me for that perceived offense. Today, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I feel sick when I read some of the things people wrote and imagine their lives must be filled with so much anger and pain to say such horrible things.
    Mob mentality has spilled over into cyberspace and without the fear having to face the internet police in riot gear, the only thing to hold back the mob is not having a vehicle aka an electronic device. I’ve watched these attacks and battles rage on and the most prevalent issue is the absence of tolerance and the desire to incite negative responses. There is also no lack of eager recruits for the cause.
    We are in complete agreement that alone and face to face, most of what is written would not be spoken. I feel every time someone attacks, maligns and verbally assaults someone else on the internet, a little piece of all of us dies and we are powerless to stop it. It unbalances me as well and today, it pretty much knocked me off my feet. It isn’t that I care less about one person’s hurt feelings over the other. I just wish at some point, we could have a dialogue, where the end result would not be hate but rather understanding and agreeing to disagree. Even better, learning from each other.

Leave a Reply to P.S. Bartlett Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s