Hate speech and mean comments seem to dominate the internet these days. Scroll through any Instagram or Twitter feed, YouTube comment section, or online forum, and you are bound to see people mocking others for their appearance, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, personal beliefs- really anything can become the unfair target of vile comments online.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although hate comments are seemingly everywhere on the internet, they do not belong anywhere. Here is a list of some ways to be kind online to turn the internet into a safer and friendlier place for all.
A safer internet includes more uplifting and encouraging tweets, posts, and comments. Spreading love online can be done in many ways, like posting a positive message, liking a post that is encouraging, or sharing an inspiring article. Here are just some examples of positivity online:
Sharing a personal story or favorite picture can also be a powerful form of digital kindness.
Praising those who do incredible things is also great! When a high school student was recruited to play college football, his friends rallied behind him and showered him with praise, as shown below.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough messages and posts like these online, so perhaps it is time that we all use our social media accounts to inspire and encourage those around us.
It’s obvious, but it has to be included in this list. Before you post a comment or like a tweet, take a step back and seriously consider if the message in any way could offend or bring somebody down. If so, don’t like or comment it.
3. Disagree Respectfully. ✊
As much as we would all like social media and the internet to be free of all negativity and vile remarks, the reality is, unfortunately, that there are a lot of insensitive words and trolls online. So, what can we do about it?
Call it out. Report it. Condemn it. But do so respectfully.
When somebody makes a bigoted remark or mocks another user’s appearance, it can be easy and tempting to only call them names or attack their intelligence. But calling them a name will not change their views or opinions. Instead, only facts and logic will.
When, for example, a news panelist declared that nothing is worse than being called a racist, a Twitter user responded with facts to clearly show that racism itself is even worse.
The facts, in this case, spoke for themselves, and no name calling or personal attacks were used.
Similarly, when a user on Reddit suggested that the star-studded cast of Black Panther lacked talent, another user decided to use facts--not name calling or personal attacks--to show why that user was wrong and listed the accomplishments and awards of each star.
Facts proved without a shadow of a doubt that the Black Panther cast is indeed brilliant, and no name calling or vile comments were made.
What you write on the internet or post on social media can be stored forever and come back to haunt you in the future. Many politicians and YouTube stars have had to wave goodbye to their careers after racist or misogynistic or just plain wrong comments from five years ago were brought to the surface. Even some university students have had their acceptances rescinded after admissions officers uncovered unacceptable online posts.
But the main reason to spread positivity and kindness on the internet is because it is the right thing to do. It is only by promoting positivity and being thoughtful that the internet can be a safer and happier place for all!