Ever received a hate comment and not known how to react? Is kindness really the best way to tackle negativity online? We can answer all this and more, thanks to the Bullying and Harassment Online Panel at Summer in the City 2018!
Moderated by Ellen Rose, the panel featured Raya Was Here, Calum McSwiggan, Roly, Imogenation, and Lana Summer, all of whom had different experiences with bullying and harrassment online. They shed some light on the different ways online hate can appear, and their tips and tricks on navigating through it. Here are some of the points they made…
1. Jealousy can be a factor
A good point Raya made was that some people leave hate comments because you are doing something they wish they were doing. As a travel vlogger, she receives comments such along the lines of “I bet her parents fund her travelling”. It took time, but she realised the reason the commenters were doing this was because they wish they were exploring the world in the same way, but feel they are unable to do so at this moment in time.
2. There’s a difference between hate and constructive criticism
Something everyone on the panel touched upon was the difference between constructive criticism and just making a personal attack. An example which Calum and Ellen made was regarding the way people talk about Donald Trump: tweeting your view about his policies is constructive and can open an interesting conversation or debate, whereas making a comment about his weight or the colour of his skin brings no value to the conversation and is essentially a form of bullying.
3. Negativity can breed negativity
There was a lot of talk about positive and negative energy, and the belief that positivity breeds more positivity whereas negativity breeds more negativity. Raya and Calum both talked about how, when you see positive comments left under a YouTube video, you are more likely to leave a positive comment yourself. Conversely, if the comments under a video are flooded with hate, it is a lot easier to jump on the bandwagon and leave a hate comment. An interesting point Raya added was that, if someone was planning to write a hate comment, seeing a positive one might stop them in their tracks, maybe even preventing them from going through with posting it.
4. Kindness can defeat hate
Calum and Lana both talked about how they react to hate comments online, and one of the things they discussed was responding with kindness. It can be very easy to instantly react to a comment negatively or go into a bit of a rant, but they felt the best way to tackle it is to take a step back and respond with a smile or kindness. Calum touchingly shared that, by responding with kindness, he was able to change a few people’s point of view, which was beautiful to hear.
5. Hate can come from fear
A key point to note when dealing with online hate is that it can come from a place of fear. Fear makes people react in many different ways, especially when it comes to topics they are not aware of.
Photos by Emma Pamplin.
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