Social media is amazing. It gives you a voice, it gives me a voice (thanks for reading!), it gives celebrities a voice. But it also gives an amazing amount of anonymity.
This is both wonderful and frightening. Public opinion and freedom of speech is now amplified and at the fingertips of every man, woman and child all over the globe.
And it’s petrifying. Celebrities are bullied and ridiculed by their ‘fans’. People appear to have the time to make themselves feel better about their own lives by spending every waking minute finding people they dislike and telling them that. Catfishing is a thing. And, God forbid, you have an opinion.
I made the mistake a few weeks ago of making a comment on twitter with regards to an Asian L’Oréal advertisement that featured a heavily photoshopped photograph of Emma Watson promoting a skin product that whitened the skin. The tweet linked to an article about the dangers of skin whitening and the how bad it was that Emma Watson was the face of this (I think, I got a little bored of the article and stopped reading). My comment simply stated that, as under contract, Emma probably couldn’t comment about this product or advert and that she was mostly likely unaware that her image would be used to promote it anyway. Plus the photo was an awful photoshop job. (All this in 140 characters, I’m a genius). My comment wasn’t saying that I was on either side of the argument being put forward, it was just simple fact. I got quite a few comments back, that I think were annoyed at my comment. I say I think, because my comment wasn’t putting an opinion forward so I couldn’t be sure where my repliers sat themselves….. I got so confused I ended up deleting my comment and chastised myself for having an opinion – or not having an opinion (I’m still confused).
What this taught me was that people are insane. Cray cray. Bat-shit. Seriously, people appear to get so riled up about stuff on the internet that if they’re not participating in an all-passionate debate (if you can call basically screaming ‘YOU’RE WRONG’ at someone debating) no matter what they believe, then they’re not contributing to the world. Maybe it gives these people a sense of purpose. Let’s hope they can peel themselves away from their phones long enough to register to vote…
I remember Lea Michele (Rachel in Glee) posting up a photo of her with her best friend Jonathon Groff (they were on holiday or hiking somewhere – they love a good hike), not long after Cory Monteith had died. It was great to see her happy and smiling and showing her fanbase that she was recovering the massive loss of her fiancé. But the comments she got from these ‘fans’ were things like ‘You’re killing Cory’s memory’ or ‘Bitch how can you have gotten over him so fast’. They were harsher than this, but actually I don’t think I have it in me to replicate the venom. It shocked me that people, mainly teenage girls, could be so openly cruel. But if they had been stood in front of Lea, they wouldn’t have dared. Incidentally around a week ago Lea Michelle posted another photo of the two of them having fun somewhere and there were only positive comments. People are so fickle.
I worry about the current generation of social media teens and early twenty-somethings. I find it unnerving that 16 year old girls are better at self-branding than I’ll ever be. (Plus where did their awkward ugly phase go? When I was 16 I was trying to get hair mascara in my hair and learning that it’s never a good idea to wear lipgloss on a windy day – not perfecting my cat eye and the latest ombre lip!)
I think it’s amazing to have an opinion. I love to have an opinion, and I love to share it. But I’ve learned over the years that even if the opinion of others doesn’t match yours, it’s important to listen and respect. You learn that way. You learn, not only about the other person, but you learn about yourself and why you believe what you do.
I used to think people who wore makeup every day were fraudsters. Now I believe they’re artists. I love to put on a face of makeup, fiddle about with different looks and use my face as a palette. But at the same time, if I see someone who has done their face in a way I don’t like, I’ll think “woah doesn’t she have any mirrors at home?” And how dare I? Just because her style isn’t to my taste, good for her for spending the time and leaving the house looking how she wanted to look. (As long as it’s not a façade – don’t get me started on fake bloggers or Flogging [a term I coined a while back!]) I’ve learned that having this opinion says more about me than them – I’m jealous that that woman has the guts and skill to go out and rock the look she’s rocking. She has self-confidence and she doesn’t care what people think of her.
The internet is full of scary people, but it’s also full of amazing people. Its blogging community is kind and friendly. I’ve even met a handful of people online, over the years, that I would proudly call good friends IRL (you know who you are!).
It’s a confusing world out there, made even more confusing but people who have opinions that probably aren’t even their real opinions. But hey, if everyone agreed, what a boring world this would be.