The Gang-Rape of the Reputation
My conclusion is that social media is not so social at all
Recent ‘studies’ I’ve seen almost exclusively relate to teenagers and usually the search for answers begins at an ever-earlier instance of puberty, sometimes 10-12 for girls. All hell breaks loose then, their hormones raging and elevated sensitivities toward peer acceptance. It’s not as easy as when I was that age, even though I was boy and it wasn’t all that great even then.
Peer pressures have changed as well. Peers used to be the kids in your class or down the street from where you lived, but now there’s the internet. It’s not a great time to be online, where judgements are made by the thousands instead of among those who know us more personally.
It's a tough time to be young anyway, a time for cliques in the hallway that will cut you dead and bullies who want your lunch money or—far more hurtful—laugh at your shortcomings, be they height, weight, skin color or hair styling. But at least in school or neighborhood, you know the abusers. You can shrug your shoulders, turn your back, laugh in their face or cry on the way home, but you know who they are. Chances are, way back in the dark ages, your mom was home when you got back from school and dad was there for dinner. A family to tell your troubles to.
Remember families? They were great or lousy but they were there.
If this was a growing-up problem, kids would grow out of it, but it’s not
Take singer/songwriter Taylor Swift as an example. Back in 2016, the country-turned-pop singer wasn't having a great year and was catching flack from just about everyone, including her ex, Calvin Harris and frenemy, Katy Perry. But Kanye West was over the top. When Taylor criticized him for calling her a "bitch" in one of his songs, his fans flooded Taylor's Instagram with snake emojis, turning her huge social media platform into a ghost town.
A metaphoric gang rape by the instant internet mob.
In 2017, actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of physically “trying to seduce” him in 1986, when Rapp was 14. Spacey, who claimed to have no memory of the incident, offered a public “sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.”
Not good enough, Kevin.
The internet’s social media mob climbed on board and ‘accusers’ fell out of the woodwork. Spacey was fired from his hit Netflix show “House of Cards,” his two production companies were ordered to pay $31 million in damages to the show’s producers, his already filmed scenes in “All the Money in the World” were deleted and reshot with Christopher Plummer, his Netflix bio of Gore Vidal was canceled, he was dumped by his agents at CAA as well as his publicist and a charity he started in 2018 to help young people break into theater was shuttered.
Gang rape of Spacey’s life and reputation? Proper sentence for a crime never proven in court? Who the hell knows but, like wayward Catholic priests, accusation is enough.
Everyone is a victim
For the young and impressionable the internet is the biggest bully in the schoolyard. For the rich and famous it’s a trap that makes any halfway normal life impossible. For Elon Musk it’s a plaything that allows him to manipulate the stock of his own company and mess with crypto currencies. For anyone who cares to go there it’s a doorway to pornography, child abuse, human trafficking, prostitution, anonymous attack of anyone you disagree with and fun gaming portals.
In other words, the internet is what you make of it.
It’s the finest tool ever invented for finding everything in the world
But it’s killing or shaming to suicide some of our kids, as well as mentally crippling them for life. It’s a pile-on for wrecking the lives of celebrities accused of misdeeds, businessmen and women losing their jobs and divorced fathers losing access to their kids.
At the same time, it’s a great place to find pictures of cats, watch sports events, research scientific projects, hang out with friends or check your facts if you write commentary. There simply are no answers.
The internet is a force of nature, as full of love, hate and greed as those who use it.
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