The internet seems to be a place where opinions are heard, from social issues to politics. While posting an opinion on something is a choice, the back-lash, not so much.
A B.C woman, Cassandra Effe, recently sent Justin Trudeau a letter regarding the election. The letter discussed that she didn’t vote for him because she wanted him to win the election, but she voted against the alternative. After posting the letter to social media, within hours Effe had over 30,000 shares and thousands upon thousands of comments. The comments had a lot of positive messages agreeing with her opinion, but with every positive comment, comes a negative one. Many of Effe’s replies were comments such as “you’re just a common housewife, why does your opinion matter?”
The internet is used for opinion posting, but yet, we get shamed for speaking out. Platforms such as Twitter are used to speak out about topics people wouldn’t discuss face-to-face. Words are thrown around and suddenly people are being attacked for sharing an opinion, being dehumanized and even being forced to take down their post and sometimes even their account. For some people social media is a vehicle to hate and bash sensitive topics, but for others they’re posting an honest opinion and being shamed.
“I think more than anything, what I noticed is that people tended to attack the person instead of the issues. There was lots of people taking it upon themselves to insult the human being instead of stating that they disagree with whatever I thought was important,” said Effe. She also explained that she finds that happens a lot online. Once everybody is hiding behind their screen it’s a fast reaction, to take down genuine conversations between strangers that could be intelligent and informing.
Good debates are all about expressing an opinion in a respectful way and enlightening one another. Yet, it becomes a personal attack instead of opinion sharing once brought to social media platforms. In Effe’s case, radio stations even held debates as to whether or not she was a real person or not. The radio station theorized that the liberals made up this persona to make Justin Trudeau look better and more engaged with voters.
Another example, more extreme than Effe’s, is a young lady named Justine Sacco. Sacco, although not the same situation as Effe, posted something online and got a huge back-lash. While on her way to Africa she sent a tweet that read “Going to Africa. Hope I Don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m White!”
Sacco’s attempt at satire was misguided, and failed; consequently, the tweet exploded with negative attention resulting in her losing her job as the head of corporate communications. Although the tweet was disrespectful, she did claim it to be a joke and even released an official apology. Sacco and Effe’s stories are very different, but it just goes to show how social media can truly affect people’s lives for the worse.
If posting an opinion on social media comes alongside shaming, some question whether or not it is even worth posting online. Public shaming is a part of a society we live in today, be responsible with your internet use and think before posting rude comments online.
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