You know what people hate? Charity. You know what else? Babies. Also, women. Seems reasonable.
For the second time in the past few months, a charity campaign* on the net has become popular. And for the second time in the past few months, people are pissed about it.
Now, I don’t want to talk about why these are worthy causes, or why you should or shouldn’t participate in the challenges either of them posed. What I want to talk about is the backlash. Yup, it seems that the internet has become so angry that even raising awareness for terminal disease support warrants a backlash.
Babies also disgust the internet. They don’t have to be born yet – in fact, it’s better if they’re not. Bonus points if it may one day be our country’s king or queen. Uh-huh, it’s very reasonable to be angered by the coverage of K-Midz newly announced pregnancy. How dare the news inform us of such frivolous things like a future monarch! What about the important news? It’s not like we have access to unlimited news content that we can actively choose to seek out! We’d much prefer if the whole bloody thing was kept a secret until the kid’s coronation.
And women! Don’t forget women – the internet’s number one thing to hate. Look at how much we loved to hate a sickly WI elderly lady. Or how much we hate Taylor Swift for doing what every male artist does and writing songs about relationships. Or how we hated someone asking “hey – where are the gals in video games?” so much that someone made a game where you can virtually punch her in the face until she’s unconscious (TW:DV). Ladies, amirite?!
Sometimes, the criticism is legitimate. Viral charity campaigns can be run by organisations with questionable funding. There are enough more important things in the world happening to grind to a halt to talk about a foetus. There are some problematic things to discuss about Taylor Swift, Anita Sarkeesian, and indeed Diana off of GBBO.
But that’s not what we’re doing when we take to Twitter to declare how much of a [insert expletive] your latest victim is. We aren’t having a discussion about it. We’re not trying to improve it, we’re trying to dismiss and unleash our anger. By using aggressive, dismissive or abusive language online, we’re distancing ourselves from something that makes us uncomfortable or angry, for whatever reason.
My theory is this: By ‘hating’ something – the popularity of a campaign, the way papers report things, actions of individuals – we stop having to do anything about it. We have let go of our societal collective responsibility, because we have some principle against it. We don’t want to be forced to engage with it, we don’t want to be made to leave our comfort-zone, even if our comfort zone is our Facebook feed. We want to be able to abuse, slate, or patronise things that come our way that we don’t want to deal with. This is not socially positive.
Being online has given ample opportunity to engage in proactive positive engagement with the world. We can spread awareness faster than ever, solve crimes, donate pizza, educate each other and more. There’s plenty to be angry about – but why aren’t we smart enough to use the internet to make a difference, rather than just shouting swearwords into the void?
You know what I really hate? Backlashes.
*If you want to donate to or discover more about the campaigns I’ve mentioned, the latest in the spotlight is ALS, which you can donate to here. The other campaign I’m talking about is the #NoMakeup Selfie for Cancer Research (you can donate here).
Image credit: Anthony Quintano via Compfight
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