Ask The Plant
Why do people bother posting hate comments online? Like what do they get out of tearing down someone else? I’m not talking about celebrities or cancel culture, just taking the time to be mean in general, I don’t get it. -Exhausted Optimist
Dear Exhausted Optimist,
You don’t get it? That makes two of us, bestie (I hope you don’t mind me calling you bestie. It’s too late, I already wrote it. No going back). However, I know that’s not the answer that you’re looking for, so here’s a more serious one.
I think the reason people post hateful content on social media comes down to two things, one being confidence, the other being acceptance.
People being mean because they’re insecure is a bit of a cliché, but clichés are cliché for a reason. People tear down others just to make themselves feel good. Is that an excuse for their actions? Absolutely not. Is it, unfortunately, a normalized part of our society? Yes. Personally, I think it’s incredibly depressing just how normalized it is.
The amount of times I start to scroll mindlessly through TikTok and a video comes up that is bullying disguised as “comedy” is genuinely disgusting. Mostly I find videos that mock teenage girls for… being teenage girls. The worst part is that most of the time, the people creating this hateful content are other teenage girls. This is where I believe acceptance comes in.
In today’s society we are constantly pitted against each other, and this has only worsened in the advent of social media where followers and likes have become the trendiest cryptocurrency. when you see a group of people tearing someone down and you join in, you feel like you’re part of something. There’s a vicious cycle of women tearing other women down for the sake of being accepted by a society that condemns femininity. You get a sense of acceptance, and at the end of the day, isn’t that what most people crave? Hate on social media stems from insecurity mixed with the validation acquired from mob mentality.
Feel free to disagree with me (though I don’t actually care), but I feel like that’s the most logical explanation. Since hate on social media isn’t going away any time soon though, I’ll give you some pointers on how to cope with it.
-First up, stop caring (like me!). If someone wants to be an asshole from behind a screen (really easy to be mean when you don’t have to actually confront the person), let them. Don’t give in and continue the cycle by responding to hate comments and picking fights; Leaving people on read is much more satisfying.
-If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed even being a bystander to this social media circus and not a direct victim, set boundaries. Limit screen time or at least limit screen time spent on social media. If you see some content that bothers you or brings you down, hit the “not interested” button. The algorithm wants you to stay online so let it know what kind of content makes you want to log off. If people you know send you hateful content to laugh at, tell them to stop or, better yet, distance yourself from people who participate in that. You don’t need that negative energy in your life, girlboss (girlboss is a state of mind, gender neutral).
-Finally, if you are that person, lurking in cyberspace ready to type away and destroy someone’s confidence, literally stop. Haven't you ever heard the saying “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? If you really feel the irresistible urge to tear others down and you don’t see anything wrong with it, go to therapy. Nobody is perfect, including you, so how about instead of being a menace to society and pointing out others’ flaws, you work on your own?
I might sound harsh, but frankly I'm tired of people acting like this is just a routine part of life. This is why boomers tell us our phones are the reason we’re depressed. Let’s not let them be right, thanks!
Be kind to one another,