Apathy of the web

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

In this day and age, social media seems to be having a much more complex effect on human dynamics and interactions than many of us realize. People have become desensitized to the idea of empathy through a screen. It has become much easier to speak negatively about others because of the lack of human interaction involved in conversation over the internet. It seems to be a societal shift that has subconsciously affected this generation. With the introduction of media platforms and electronic communication, the presence of online bullying has become more prevalent. 

This phenomena has become more evident through celebrities and influencers who have dealt with negative comments and hatred from viewers and fans. One prime example of this was seen with both streamer “Corpse Husband” and Minecraft Youtuber  “Dream.” Both influencers portrayed themselves on the internet as anonymous and hid their appearance from their viewers. They both refrained from revealing their faces out of fear of judgment from the public. When Dream revealed his identity, he was received with hateful and foul comments. 

Many fans ran to defend him on platforms such as Twitter.

People today tend to forget that people, such as influencers, on the other side of the screen are also human and have feelings as well. It feels so easy to justify being hateful when you are not interacting with the other person face-to-face. Another more recent example was seen through singer and songwriter Billie Eilish. Part of Eilish’s brand was wearing baggy clothes to hide the figure of her body. 

She knew the judgment that comes with being a person with social influence on the internet and chose to avoid scrutiny from her listeners and fans. She also understood that, as an 18-year-old woman, her body would be sexualized by others on the internet.

In order to take control of her body and her sexuality, at one of her live performances, Eilish stripped herself of her baggy clothes, down to only her bra. She left fans in shock as she put herself on display to the world in hopes of having ownership of herself. Even after expressing how self-conscious she was about her body and how powerful of an act she committed, people online still went on to leave negative comments and speak poorly about her body. 

The public’s negative reaction to her reveal speaks volumes to how easy it is for people to be malicious when they know they will never have to say it to someone’s face. I think it’s something that we, as a society, should work towards improving. People forget to employ sympathy and empathy and treat others with compassion because they lose sight of the humanity behind their phone screen. The idea of social media and online communication holds a feeling of impersonality that allows people to speak their negative thoughts without any filter. They forget how their words and actions online will affect another human.