For my group’s project “They Said What???”, my specific job is to look for racist/sexist/problematic comments on social media. I did not expect it to be difficult to find these comments, but I also did not expect it to be this easy. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Reading all of these (terrible) comments and posts has caused me to think more about the way people interact on social media. For many people, the internet/social media makes them feel like the can say anything, no matter how offensive, because they are not actually saying it aloud. There is a sense of comfort for them in that they are not having a face to face conversation, and can avoid a real argument or getting called out in person. This form of thinking is especially strange to me considering that many of these people use their real names on social media. Do they just not realize that they are saying things that are extremely offensive and can change people’s perceptions of them if their name is attached (possibly getting them in trouble with friends/family or getting them fired)? Or do they just not care? Either way, in that case, I am happy people are using their names because it is more likely that someone they know will say something to them. Unfortunately, many people go by aliases on social media so it is almost impossible to hold them accountable for their comments. This gives them even more power and makes it easier for them to make threats etc. without any consequences. Also, the amount of comments that show the poster is simply misinformed and not thinking hard enough is insane. Google exists for a reason! Look up some information!

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7 responses »

  1. nlredmond says:

    It is also super interesting when a vlog or blog post is incredibly offensive and problematic, and then the comment support the maker, ask for more etc. It is so amazing to me that people can be complicit in their own oppression in this way, even if they think something is funny or entertaining when they or their people are the butt of the joke.

    • meganf says:

      Yes, one of the worst things I’ve noticed when doing this research is that a lot of the most terrible comments have the most “likes” or “favorites” on different social media domains.

  2. zainjazara says:

    I work at the development office of CMC where we call alumni and parents for donations. I initially held the same belief as you: people are unbelievably rude online becuase they can hide behind a screen or an alias. Also, I always used to disregard them for uneducated a**holes. However, speaking to so many “highly educated” CMC alumni (and/or simply turning on the TV to watch, for example, some presidential candidates speak) has really affirmed to me that these racists are actually proud of what they believe and say. I have heard atrocious things said with so much conviction and entitlement that I am convinced the majority of these racists are racists in real life and aloud as well. I definitely believe it is made easier to speak more harshly and openly from the safety of one’s screen, but I am slowly become more and more convinced they want us to know just who they are because they fully believe they are right despite the abundance of information they have at their fingertips.

  3. sonyajendoubi says:

    I am curious to know whether or not you support websites who expose online racists. I wonder if believe they are so open with what they write and (often) use their real name, if it is okay for them to be blasted on these websites. If they are already sharing it on social media does that mean they deserve what happens to them when they are vilified on these websites?

    • meganf says:

      In terms of my group’s site, we are only posting things that are found publicly on social media. Therefore- a person has to publicly (not just to their added friends) post something somewhere for everyone to see in order for us to post it on our site. These people are not making a side comment to some people they know online, they are posting on pages or in response to things that they are well aware will be seen by people who are not known to them.

  4. kthompso says:

    Reading comments on news outlets is something I do often (I don’t even know why because it is so, so incredibly painful and exhausting and sad). But it is amazing when justice is served after people screenshot their words. It’s so insane of confident people feel when they don’t think their words can be used against them later, in actual life.

    I used to follow this tumblr a lot: http://racistsgettingfired.tumblr.com/ it’s pretty satisfying. What sucks is that the tumblr itself gets a lot of backlash (they shouldn’t have their lives destroyed over a stupid comment they made!!!). But actually, people need to be responsible for their words in the public online forums that they use.

  5. doriebailey says:

    The tumblr “racistsgettingfired” is a really interesting topic of conversation: on one hand, yes, the words of these people do have serious consequences, and allowing them to go unnoticed without any repercussions only perpetuates and excuses their prejudiced thoughts. But, I do understand the argument that, by posting a lot of their personal information, they are not being educated, but rather vilified for something they said–that may or may not reflect how they really think. However, I side more with the earlier position on the website, because it not only provides an example to other online users that might be tempted to voice similarly hurtful opinions under the safety of “anonymity,” but shows those com mentors that hurtful speech online is absolutely unacceptable.

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