Zahra Shahtahmasebi

(THE TV’s LEAKINGIn one of those idle moments I took to perusing Instagram, scrolling through endless photos in my home feed. I took a pause at the latest image posted by Jamie Oliver – a rest in peace post for one of his icons, Carrie Fisher. Eyes quickly fell to the comments to see evidence of a disjointed argument interspersed between similar comments of respect and sadness at Fisher’s passing. Being an idle moment as it were, I made the decision to load the rest of the comments and immediately wished I hadn’t.

One commenter had taken the trouble to attack Oliver over a spelling mistake in the photo’s caption. Oliver, known to have severe dyslexia, had used ‘too’ incorrectly (writing ‘to’ instead). This mistake was something I had noticed when I read the caption, but barely thought it worth paying attention to. The commenter claimed that someone as rich as Oliver should hire a ‘personal spelling advisor’ so as to avoid future incidents such as this, before they went on to further insult Oliver and other commenters who jumped to the celebrity chef’s defence.

Doesn’t this just border on the edge of incredulity? I could scarce believe what I was reading; that this is something capable of triggering an online argument, hateful words and insults. In a world where electronic devices and autocorrect mean typos are a highly frequent occurrence – well speaking for myself in particular – at this rate we’d all be needing personal spelling advisors. Pity that most of us, unlike Oliver, do not have the cash to fork out for this much needed assistance.

On another scale, how is it that this – a missing ‘o’ from a word that did not detract from the meaning of the caption – was actually worth starting a feud over? How can it be, especially with the state of everything else that is going on the world at the moment that someone actually took the time to type out a complaint over a spelling error? Compared to other things that I would believe worth taking a stand over, this pales into teeny tiny insignificance – a minor issue that truly warrants no attention whatsoever.

The truth of it is, this era of electronic devices that we are now in lends a sort of bizarre courage to people, allowing them to say all sorts of things they never would say in reality, all because of the safety and anonymity that comes from sitting behind a screen. The thing is – what is gained by all of this hate? I’m all for free speech and being allowed to speak your mind but what use is it to personally attack and insult people, even people you do not know? It is not tolerated in real life, so why should it be so online? Why should we have to suffer through this war of hate as people feel they have the right to rip others to shreds to mock, and berate, to taunt, to threaten? A number one rule that we learn as children is that if we have nothing nice to say that we should say nothing at all. Telling people that they are f****** stupid, that they should kill themselves, leaving cryptic and hurtful comments, purely because you disagree with their point of view, simply makes no sense and all of this leaves emotional wounds that cut deep. We all seem to forget that the people out there in the spotlight are humans too, just like us and we all know words are powerful weapons that can prove detrimental or even fatal.

The strangest thing seems to be how people take particular delight in tearing down people who are trying to help others, and even themselves. Maybe they’ve made mistakes before but now they are trying to improve themselves and raise awareness, assist others – so why pull them down? Is this some form  of the Tall Poppy syndrome?

Whatever it is needs to end. If you have something to say why not try say something constructive. There is and never will be a need for hate as it does not achieve anything. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice – or at the very least useful to say – don’t say anything at all.

This article (I’m Done With Online Hate Speech) was written exclusively for The TV’s Leaking and may not be reproduced in any way, shape or form without permission from the author.

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