I need to get something off my mind. First: I am not a hater. Second, I don’t like people who write hateful comments online. They are pathetic. BUT: in my opinion this whole trolling/hater thing is being blown up to something it really isn’t.
First let me tell you why I’m so annoyed about this – and it’s been building. There was an interview on television a few days ago with a Dutch female celebrity who had apparently gained some weight. Her face looked notably fuller and I was also thinking: hey, did she gain weight? This is natural, in my opinion, when you see someone in the public eye change their appearance. I would also be thinking something if she had changed her hair or suddenly had fuller lips.
We share our #thoughts
But we live in a digital era and we no longer think things. We share them. Online, because that’s what we’re used to. So what happened? People massively shared their thoughts on Twitter. A bunch of people digitally wondered, in 140 characters, whether she had gained weight. May I add: they did not massively tweet that she looked horrible (some did, but the majority did not!), they simply wondered if she had gained weight – and did other people also notice this? This is how Twitter works.
This is also how watching television works nowadays. The few of us who still actually watch TV shows broadcasted on our television (instead of streamed online) also love to tweet along with our favourite shows. It’s one of my favourite things to do when I watch a TV show. It’s also why every show now has a hashtag to encourage people to share online. We are encouraged to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ programs on social media and share our thoughts. BUT WAIT: until they’re ‘negative’. Then we suddenly become ‘haters on the internet’.
My thoughts on ‘haters’
And this irritates me. In the days following this particular interview, a large number of online media outlets started publishing articles about the ‘online haters’ who ‘destroyed’ this woman because of a little weight gain. She even publicly apologized and said she would ‘do something about it’. In my opinion this is just as ridiculous as the headlines of all those articles. Nobody destroyed her, nobody even thought about it anymore. Until those articles came out, with screenshots of the Tweets, and there was suddenly an issue. The ‘haters’ were born.
Now just to clarify: I know there are plenty of annoying people online who truly ‘troll’ celebrities and even threaten them. But those are a minority. When we see something on TV or on another medium and we share our thoughts about it, are we haters? No, we’re not. It’s annoying to me that online news media write stories about something that didn’t even happen. And then more people comment on those articles with lines like “what’s wrong with people?” and “people will always have something to hate about.” Except there’s nothing wrong with people, there’s something wrong with online news media. They publish these non-stories and THEY will always find a story where there isn’t one.
People don’t hate – they share
I feel bad for this Dutch celebrity – I happen to love her and thinks she looks great – but she’s a public figure and people will continue to talk about her online. And if she’s on TV and looks a little different, people will comment on it on social media. That’s just today’s reality. 15 years ago we would have said it out loud in front of our TV, now we grab our phone and post it on the internet. And in doing so, we connect with others who feel the same way. I happen to think that’s pretty cool. And it doesn’t make us haters. We should see it for what it really is: it’s sharing; nothing more, nothing less, and we forget about it a couple of minutes later.
I am going to keep sharing my opinions online, because I love social media and it’s what I love to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. People should see these online thoughts for what they really are and pay much less attention to it. I know that won’t happen – but I had to write this blogpost anyway. Keep sharing people – just don’t threaten or bash anyone. And if you’re the one people are talking about online: don’t pay too much attention to it. They are fleeting thoughts, nothing else.