The other day I read a Blog post by esteemed horror author, Brian Keene. In it, Mr.Keene talked about somebody in the comic industry who was recently threatened, online, with rape in the comments section of a post because of something she had said or done the reader did not agree with. Mr.Keene, whom I have nothing but respect for as a author, then went on to talk about how he thought this was wholly, totally unacceptable behaviour (amongst other related subjects).
First of all, in want to say I totally agree with him, he and I are on her same page with this, but then I started to think about it further; a reaction I strongly expect his Blog post was fully intended to achieve. My thoughts were this...
Why is it considered unacceptable to say that you are going to commit such a heinous act as rape on somebody you have never, nor are likely ever to have met and yet, it is slightly less unacceptable for you to say you are going to kill them? How many times have you turned around and said 'such and such annoys me so much that I could kill them?' And is it really considered any less acceptable, or is that just my perception?
Just to make it clear, I am not condoning the threat of rape made in a comment post, nor do I think it is a subject that should be made light of, but in the same way, neither do I think we should go around saying we are going to kill people willy nilly without first considering what it is we are saying.
I think people in our society today have gotten too used to just saying what they like, when they like, without any forethought or any regard of what it is they are actually saying. Another term that has come into popular use most recently, ( I have head several people saying it over the course of the last couple of years) is 'I would so like to ruin that!'
What does that even actually mean? To me it suggests rape again or at least forced, aggravated or severe sexual assault. And yet, I have heard the phrase bandied about heedlessly, quite a few times in fact, as it has seemed to become a part of today's modern term of phrase.
The world is a messy place. All over this little planet of ours, and it is a small world - make no mistake of that - there are countless, needless wars going on, people who are quite happy to go around abusing children as though there were nothing wrong with that, as well as those only too prepared to take what they want just because they thought that it was on offer and failed to seek consent. In this cruel, cruel world we live in then, is it perhaps too much to ask that all of us just think a little more about what we're saying before we say it? Isn't it the responsibility if all of us to try and make this world a little nicer, happier place?
Too often, on the Internet, it is too easy to be unkind. Many seem to believe a veil of anominity surrounds them online that instantly gives them impunity to say what they like without any kind of recourse. This is wrong. Things posted online still hurt, they still cause damage, they can still be conceived as threatening, often more so than when said face-to-face.
A few pieces of advice spring to mind that although clichéd, seem nonetheless very appropriate right now: firstly, if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it online.
Secondly, if you haven't got anything nice to say, sometimes you might be better off not saying it at all.
Lastly, whatever you post is there for all the world to see. If you wouldn't say something in front of your mum, your grandparents, your aunt, then you probably shouldn't be saying it online to somebody either.
That witty comment you just posted about how you are 'going to f*** them up lol' isn't going away, it's there to stay and the more people who see it, the more people are going to think you are somebody they probably don't want to associate with.
Maybe if just a few of us here and there started changing our attitudes, started thinking more about what we say BEFORE we say it, then maybe we could start to make this world a better place. And by world, I mean our planet not just the internet!
It's a vague possibility, but sometimes all you need is a little bit of faith....that and a little bit of hope!