We’re no longer living in a world of assumption. Thanks to social media and instant sharing, there are virtually no secrets anymore. When someone is an asshole, they’re going to get called out — whether you’re famous or a civilian.
The problem is we’re starting to enjoy being the asshole.
Cyber bullying is an epidemic in the LGBT community, and it starts young. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, 42% of LGBT youth have reported bullying and harassment online via text message, compared to 15% of their straight counterparts.
It’s hard to comprehend the effects of online bullying. Low self-esteem, depression, and low grade point averages are only a few side effects of cyber bullying among middle and high school LGBT students. And while these might seem obvious, what doesn’t is how quiet the habit of abuse transitions into adulthood.
Americans have become victims of our own success
There is a culture war happening today, and it’s happening at our fingertips. In a way, Americans have become victims of our own success — we preach how important it is to have free speech, yet we use that right carelessly, turning free speech into hate speech. As a result, we’ve desensitized our mental health and emotional triggers.
We’re training ourselves to believe it’s okay to say whatever we want online because it’s anonymous. The victim might be halfway across the world, so it’s fine to call them “fat,” “gross,” “ugly,” a “faggot,” a “dyke,” a “fairy,” or worse. It’s become entertaining, even rewarded. The nastiest Twitter Troll in recent times, Milo Yiannopoulos, was given the cover of OUT magazine — how does this make sense?
This is why we’re living in a Trump-infested, reality TV-obsessed world. Hate speech has become a mandatory thing to prove how worthy we are in comparison to others. It’s as if our brains rewind back to high school when some of us were the victims of bullying. Our sense memory tells us to follow the leader, but the “leader” role has become a bully that will mess you up if you don’t do as he or she says.
The truth is it’s about survival, which is a quality passed onto us from our ancestors. To ensure survival, we feel pressure to team up with the strongest groups that stand a better chance to survive. These are the “popular” people, and some of us would do anything to make others believe we’re popular by bullying them into submission.
We brainwash someone into thinking they’re less than us, that way we’ll get more power. Survival instinct comes into play, and instantly they become passive — they think we have to like or “approve” of them in order to gain value and worth. But if we backtrack far enough, what lies beneath a bully is insecurity. They’re the ones who want approval, not the victim.
Have you ever wondered why you want to be popular? Let’s go back to high school again. You force hundreds of teenagers into a building for eight hours a day, and within a few weeks they segregate themselves into a system of groups — naturally, without telling them to do so. The popular group, the band nerds, the drama geeks, the mathletes, the loners, it’s a cliché high school story. The reason for this segregation is a basic need to survive.
Humans must have something to strive towards in order to feel validated.
The Internet transferred these natural habits into an anonymous construction. Apps like Grindr, Scruff, and other hookup apps are the latest tool we use to gain some kind of emotional security. Calling people names, being a racist asshole, or turning a nice gesture into something shameful is an act of desperation. It’s not “honesty.”
When one is a victim of bullying, it’s natural to want to gain your power back as you get older. The best way to do that is to fight the bullies at their own game. Instead of taking the high road, many of us choose to become an even bigger bully — that way no one will see how much we’re hurting inside.
It starts young. The fact is gay and lesbian teens are three times more likely to commit suicide because of cyber bullying. Anger is an impulse every person feels after years of being a victim, which is why if we want to stop bullying in its tracks, we need to start teaching our kids to do what’s RIGHT, rather than what’s POPULAR.
We’ve forgotten how to judge integrity: the likelihood a person will do the right thing without anyone watching. We’re caught up in trying to survive that we’ve forgotten how to think for ourselves.
What is it that we want? What makes us comfortable? What makes us happy? Chances are, being mean does not make you feel better. It pressures you to up your bully game in an effort to keep whatever “status” you think you’ve made for yourself.
It’s a joke, and we’re all the butt of it.