The internet loves to hate you.
It's always so interesting to me when people talk about how to gain fans and followers online. The discourse is always, "Be yourself, be authentic, be real. People want to see the unfiltered, raw version of you."
I think this is all bullshit.
It's all fun to be authentic until the deepest parts of you are weaponized against you by the anonymous mob of the Internet. We hate when people are filtered, flawless, and fake, but we demonize, shame, and ridicule them for being honest and earnest.
Nobody is exempt from this. The most beautiful, kindest, hardest working people are no exception. Literally nobody can do anything right, according to the Internet. One day you're the darling of Twitter. The next day you’re canceled. The higher you are, the harder they want to see you fall. The more righteous you are, the more unrealistic are their expectations.
I read a quote in a book recently that perfectly sums up how I feel about this phenomenon:
“You don’t have to be famous for people to say mean things about you on the Internet. You just have to be earnest.” — Hari Kondabolu
Why are we also desperate to tear others down? Are we so frantic to be included, so lonely and alienated that we need to look for any “in” group so we don’t feel so “out”? Are we hoping that by tearing others down, we ourselves will not receive the vitriol? Does it have to be like this?
I recently reflected on my own history of being fascinated with (and admittedly, participating in) “cancel culture” and “internet mob mentalities.” I never led the charge to destroy anybody, but I would be lying if I didn't say I had my hot takes on whatever dogpile was happening. I never struck the match, but I added fuel to the fire, and to act like the net result of destruction is any different would be a simple coping mechanism for the damage that I caused.
Gross. What a gross mentality. What a gross use of my time. What an ugly window into my soul.
Nobody wants to think of themselves as the villain, so we justify our villainous actions by pretending that we have the moral high ground to do whatever shitty thing we want to do under the quasi-anonymity of the Internet.
Ultimately, you are whatever you repeatedly do. I don’t want to be an asshole. I don’t want to engage in assholery, even justifiable assholery, because it’s… never justified. And you’re just an asshole. I’ve been an asshole. And I don’t want to do that anymore.