Gretchen Duros, Special to the Headlight
Imagine what it would be like if everyone on the internet woke up one day and collectively decided to hate you. On the internet, people who have too much time on their hands will pick on one person. Canceling and shaming someone on the internet without a valid reason is common now. Some think it is necessary to collectively denounce a person who does something wrong, but oftentimes it’s without cause. Spending excessive amounts of time on the internet has resulted in a culture that promotes bandwagon cyberbullying and shaming.
On social media platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok, users spend up to nine hours a day scrolling, liking, and commenting. We’ve all seen the negative effects of social media usage, the most prominent one today being the environment that is created online when everyone is constantly on their phones. Hours of time spent on social media rots the empathetic part of people’s brains. In 2016 the number one trending hashtag on Twitter was #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty. Do you know how many people have to hate you to trend number one worldwide? Taylor was shamed, rejected and despised on the internet for no reason, which is promoted online today. People baselessly hated her on every social media platform because it was a trend that people mindlessly participated in. As a result she left planet earth; no one saw her for a year. Everyone hated her online but had no perspective on how their actions on the internet would affect a real person’s life. Today, Taylor Swift is well respected and celebrated again. She even received an honorary doctorate from NYU in Fine Arts.
The idea of “canceling” someone has been popular on the internet since 2018. Canceling refers to the cultural boycott of someone; it is mostly socially performative. No one condones this behavior in real life, so why is it allowed online? A study done by the Pew Research center found that teens spend nearly nine hours a day on social media and agree that the internet amplifies drama. Some might say that problematic or toxic people on the internet should not have a platform and the only way to take it from them is to publicly tear them down online.
The excessive amounts of time on social media platforms obscures a person’s sense of reality. Most would not shame someone in real life the way they do on the internet. This enables the internet to accept canceling a person without a valid reason. If you’re chronically online, consider going out in the real world and remind yourself to treat others the way you want to be treated.