Words are real, whether they are written or spoken. If you spew hate on your Facebook or Twitter feed, it is the same as saying it out loud. As Americans, we have a right to be proud of the First Amendment. Yet, the right to say something and whether it is right to say it are two very different things.
For most of us, when we wake up in the morning, we will likely take a quick look at our social media feed. Facebook. Twitter. Snapchat. Quickest way to see the news. What happened in the world. Who might be having a birthday. Where your friends are headed or what is on their mind.
It’s one of my favorite things to do. I will admit it. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, and social media makes me feel somewhat connected still, particularly to friends and family that aren’t local.
But, I have been struck recently by the amount of hate that I’ve seen on social media. Racist comments, parental judgments, beauty evaluations.
Why? What gives you the right to say such hurtful, horrible things to people that you often don’t know?
This week, Leslie Jones of Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters fame was bombarded with tweets that were racist, cruel, and hateful. Reading them made me actually feel ill with disgust. What kind of person would do that?
But, apparently, many of us are willing to do that. I have unfriended family and friends who disagreed with me on Facebook or Twitter with language that is literally so horrible that I refuse to write it. Apparently, I’m “stupid” and “a bitch” and “…” because I don’t have the exact same beliefs that they do.
Last night, my husband shared a ridiculous video of Donald Trump at a WWE event. Apparently, Trump has his own WWE Greatest Moments page. I will admit that we are not Trump supporters, and some of our social media connections and family are Trump supporters. This leads to inherit conflict. Many of our friends will debate us with respectful, thoughtful comments. We have a fun dialogue in which we both agree to disagree.
However, today, we woke up instead to a comment that was beyond disgusting. In response to a silly video, one person responded that he would “not vote for a c&*t that doesn’t blow her husband in the oval office.”
WHAT?!?!?!?!?!? We deleted the comment immediately after seeing it, but here’s my question.
When you post a comment like that for the world to see, here’s what it says about you:
- To use the language that you used, you appear to have very limited respect for women.
- Regardless of your hateful, emotional comment, I’m not sure that one of your “facts” is actually relevant to someone serving as President.
- You may not be someone that I want to be around or have my children around. Because my children learn to be respectful to everyone, even those they don’t agree with.
- Finally, would you actually say that in-person to someone’s face? Would you use that language in front of me? In front of my daughter? In front of yours?
The reality is that you have every right to post the comment that you did. The First Amendment guarantees that. But is your choice of language right? Is it right to take the ugliness that you feel and publicize and verbalize it? And, how does that language actually help us have a dialogue that makes this country better?
Hate speech is hate speech whether it is written or not. It is wrong. It is cyberbullying at its worst. If you wouldn’t say it in person, you shouldn’t type it on social media. And if you would say it in person, then I am not sure what to say to you.
America cannot be healed with hate speech being thrown around everywhere. To come together, we must speak to each other with respect. We must speak to each other as we would want someone to speak to us. We must actually SPEAK.