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Is the Internet Getting Meaner?

I'm going to dispense a bunch of advice that I wish both I had heard when I was younger and on the internet, and that I think younguns on the internet could benefit from hearing.

The way people talk about very minor celebrities and critique their every action would absolutely destroy any normal person. Before you write anything online, consider - has someone else already said? Did they maybe say it better? Are you actually adding to a conversation? Yeah, those are a lot of questions to think about.

But especially white people like myself, and especially young people who may not have learned the full weight of empathy and emotional maturity, need to think before we post. So, take it from an older millennial - you're going to make big mistakes that you regret, you're not always going to say the right thing, and god help you if you blow up enough to make an income at the entertainment industry. Accept that microcelebrities and celebrities are going to be problematic or just do things that you don't like - and make room to just not like something without having to justify it on a moral basis. Oh, and learn the difference between personal nitpicks, like "I don't like the way she pauses between sentences, or the way they're incredibly cringey" and actual issues, like, "okay, that was racist, that's not okay." Of course, there's overlap here - fandoms can be incredibly fragile about critiques of their faves - but delivery does mtter. And finally - learn to complain and mock people in private, rather than on forums. Every time we post something on Twitter rather than complaining about it in private, we're putting it out there for the world to read. And that has a different effect than bitching in private to friends. Because if you don't? You're going to betray any principles you have of being empathetic. and even if you don't care about the celebrity's feelings, your fellow fans will still read what you say. And it might make them feel terrible about themselves, especially if they're dorky, or they snort when they laugh, or idk, they overshared something recently. So - try to hold others only to the standard you hold yourself to, and for both yourself and others, learn the value of grace and forgiveness. Not everything is really worth throwing someone in the trash bin over. It's so easy to spend way too much energy on critiquing youtubers or any other mildly public figure when we actually have real, serious problems to focus on - like holding cops and politicians accountable, and climate change. And yes, someone can care about two things at once - but can you care about ten at once? So don't fall for the easy trap of wanting to fix or mock something small and stupid. Our anger should be directed at the wealthy class, definitely, but celebrities are just the scapegoats of the rich. Spend your energy and rage on organizing, not merely griping. Should I follow my own advice? Absolutely. Are we all still in a pandemic, which makes it kind of hard to protest? Yeah. But let's spend our energy annoying the people who really, really deserve it.

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