It’s cool to hate on the web

2011-05-18 00:00

THERE is one thing that I may never understand about human beings and that is their constant struggle with the concept of live and let live.

The 141-million YouTube hit wonder, Rebecca Black, was the word on the web once again last weekend, but not for the usual everybody-hates-that-Friday track. Rumours spread of the 13-year-old getting pregnant by her pubescent boyfriend after a photoshopped image of Rebecca holding a sign with the words “I’m pregnant” was uploaded onto the CNN iReport website, along with the allegation that her friend let slip of the news on Facebook by mistake and someone saw it before it was deleted. A Facebook group was created, congratulating the teen celeb while another website allegedly attacked her for saying that she saw herself as a role model. Many critics apparently urged her to consider an abortion, with words like “statu-tory rape” popping up in jest in the responses.

While comments like “did she choose the back seat or the front?” and “at least her kid will know the days of the week” have been cracking up social network users, there is an underlying meanness in the cyber mob mentality that makes me fear humanity 2.0.

Rebecca is not new to cyber bullying and has been an online target since her music video went viral, with comments telling her to cut herself and to develop an eating disorder to look pretty. The extreme online harassment prompted YouTube to disable the comment box under her video.

However, she is not the first to receive a mass online attack. Justin Bieber has endured several blows, including a rampant rumour that he had died in a car crash. Twilight stars have also received their fair share of flak.

On Twitter, not so long ago, Stephen Fry had a minor online altercation after a tweep called him boring, resulting in a momentary lapse of self-worth on Fry’s part and him wanting to disable his Twitter account.

Cyber bullying is not a new phenomenon and has resulted in a number of suicides over the past decade, the most recent being last year in New Jersey.

However, there seems to be a “cool” factor linked to the trend.

Sure, the Internet bestows upon every user the democratic right to freedom of speech, making everyone believe that they are entitled to an opinion about everything, from the end of the world to the hat you are wearing in your Facebook profile picture. But the mask of anonymity further enpowers people to shred to pieces what they merely dislike, with little concern for the repercussions it may have.

According to urbandictionary. com trolling is the act of being a prick for the sake of being a prick. Chronic haters. While the intention of a troll may sometimes be harmless and to make people laugh, the line between what is appropriate and what is not is becoming less and less clear. Every joke has a victim of some sort, and some haters just aren’t funny.

Seriously, let a brother breathe.

Mentors, the media and self-help books are always urging people to take a chance and put themselves out there or they will never achieve what they want to in life. But if wanting to be a music sensation means being stripped bare and plopped on a box for the billion-member online jury to mock the birth mark on my left butt cheek, then I’d be happier singing karaoke among other drunk wannabes.

A part of me wants to point a finger at the television-created modern genius: Dr House from House, Patrick Jane from The Mentalist, Dr Perry Cox from Scrubs and Walter Bishop from Fringe. They are all giant a*holes, but we love them because they are smart, witty, condescending and always right.

Somehow it became cool to be mean, cool to break down another’s resolve and cool to crack nasty jokes about those who you perceive to be inferior or a threat. There’s no longer a need for the hold-me- back friend who saves you from being beaten to a pulp.

But I guess, what goes around comes around.

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