Has the internet broken humanity?

humanity
hjʊˈmanɪti/
noun
1. human beings collectively.
“appalling crimes against humanity”
synonyms:    humankind, the human race, the human species, mankind, man, people, mortals; Homo sapiens
2. the quality of being humane; benevolence.
“he praised them for their standards of humanity and care”
synonyms:    compassion, brotherly love, fellow feeling, humaneness, kindness, kind-heartedness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, goodness, good-heartedness, gentleness, leniency, mercy, mercifulness, pity, tenderness, benevolence, charity, generosity, magnanimity
“he praised them for their standards of humanity, care, and dignity”

When I pose the question as to whether the Internet has broken humanity, I am referring to both definitions. Has humanity, the human race, been so irreparably damaged by the anonymity of the Internet, that their humanity (compassion, kindness, consideration – pick your favourite) has been destroyed?

We have come to expect people to say despicable things online, branding them “trolls” just out to get attention or ruin somebody else’s day. We are told to ignore people like this, don’t engage them, leave them to be miserable in their own sad little worlds. Do you know what’s happening? It is leaking into the real world. Is it because behaving appallingly online is acceptable that people say whatever ugly thought is in their head in public now?

Yesterday morning I read a facebook status of a mom I know. She was upset because a cashier at a large local store told her (out loud in public in front of the 9 month old baby, her 4 year old brother and the rest of the queue) that her daughter is so ugly, she would have thought she was a boy if she wasn’t wearing pink. What the actual *$#! is wrong with humanity??

Firstly, this little girl is delicate and beautiful, her only “sin” being that she has very fine hair that hasn’t grown in yet – like millions of other babies. Secondly, that is utterly irrelevant – what right has an absolute stranger – in a service industry position no less – to comment negatively on anybody anywhere? Let alone calling a baby ugly, and in front of an impressionable little boy who was very upset and felt he had to defend his baby sister by saying he thought she was beautiful. How DARE that woman?

In the endless mommy groups on Facebook, you see these excuses for humanity far too often in the comments of some poor mom’s post looking for support or asking a question. Emboldened by the fact that they are behind their screen where they can’t see the disgust on other people’s faces, they judge everything from the colour of the woman’s hair in her profile picture to her language, clothing, character, family and always her ability as a mother. And we brush it off.

And that poor mother whose toddler got into the gorilla enclosure, every person across the world felt it necessary to shred her personally, questioning her ability as a mother and suggesting they take away her children. Really?? Any mother that spewed that awful hatred for another person, another woman, another mom, implying it would never happen to them even if they had multiple children they were juggling – they are either unforgivably stupid or lying. And I wish with every cell in my body that people without children would STFU because their opinion is baseless.

I hated with every iota of my being the vile stupidity that some “wealthy” woman shared about a fellow mommy blogger in another queue in another store. This “person”, who was with her own teenager and toddler, felt it appropriate to tell the blogger’s 3 year old son that she (the blogger) likes embarrassing him, because his mommy should buy him clothes that fit him better and weren’t from a “shitty place” (indicating a Pep stores bag she was holding at the time). The teenager laughed. Where is his humanity? How is he meant to even know what that is with a mother like that, in an age where he can say whatever he likes online without fear of reprimand?

You know what I loved about the whole thing? The blog post this amazing mommy wrote that went viral and even had her talking on the radio. You know why I loved it? Because the uproar it caused hints that there may yet be some humanity out there. Maybe all is not lost. And I suppose that is thanks to the Internet giving this mommy a space to use her voice. But at what cost?

We used to be able to say that people type horrible things online that they would never say in real life. Maybe that was true once, but not anymore. Maybe these “people” don’t even realise that they are doing it out loud, maybe they are so used to airing their “thoughts” online that it just spills out before they realise it.

I don’t know if there is an answer. I spend 95% of time on the Internet and I have never been overwhelmed by the need to vomit a passing thought onto a stranger. But there isn’t a bullying bone in my body and the world is full of frustrated bullies. I think I am just getting to the point where I might not watch quietly as another nasty piece of humanity leaves their opinion on something they know nothing about. I’m so tired of the bullies online and I feel like maybe, if more people speak up when the nasties throw their 2 cents into a conversation, they will be less likely to share their unwanted and unwelcome thoughts in the real world.

If the woman who felt the need to tell a mommy that her baby is ugly, or the woman who opened her condescending mouth to that poor 3 year old should happen across this blog – Please go away. I don’t want people like you anywhere near anything to do with me. The world would be a better place without “people” like you in it.

Comments

  1. says

    Sometimes I think these people just don’t have anything better to do. They are just lazy and don’t take the effort to support, rather to tear down a person.
    And you know what, Mandy? You are just a good example of someone who does support and lift others up. So thank you.

  2. says

    I don’t think it is the internet per say that has broken humanity, however it is a very big part of what is going wrong with our society because people do hide behind their keyboards a lot of the time. For me I think it’s about the fact that we have lost our manners! We have lost our respect for each other! We have lost empathy and we believe that because of the time we live in that it gives us the right to say whatever we want, whenever we want.

    There is so much wrong with this day and age we find ourselves living in, it scares the socks off of me.

    xx

  3. says

    I completely agree! It gets to me beyond anything how people talk to each other online. I’ve often wanted to say to these people, ‘read out loud what you’ve written to your child. Now, would you still post what you’ve written?’ The way people swear at, put down, condescend and belittle other people is completely beyond me! Glad I’m not the only one who is quite incredulous sometimes as to how people talk to each other…boggles my mind really. Thanks for the post x

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thank you for the comment B. I actually like that, I think we should all quote that every time we see somebody being rotten! ‘read out loud what you’ve written to your child. Now, would you still post what you’ve written?’ If only we could get people to say it out loud before they hit enter :-/ And my worry, after hearing about these people in shopping centres blatantly saying those kinds of things out loud, is that it is too late.

  4. debbie says

    People are so judgemental and i’m positive its the cause of a lot of these ‘mommy wars’. If we’d all just stop judging eachother, stop the negativity and give eachother a damn break. We’re all moms, who are we to judge eachother. Sometimes I want to quit the internet for a few weeks, turn off the news. There is so much hate out there, and why, for who and for what gain?

    Such a beautifully written piece Mandy x

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      I totally hear you Debbie. I have weeks where I refuse to read anything online or even on the poles on the side of the road because I am just full-up on the ugliness everywhere. Thanks for your kind words and for reading xxx

  5. says

    Yes and yes to this post !!

    Last night again I felt so frustrated by how people use the online platform to break others down. Having said that, I am also shocked with how opinanted and rude people are to strangers whether it’s online or in person!

    People lack a filter , a heart (to emphasize before judging) And people so entitled these days …

    Okay I’m getting worked up here , but I just feel passionate about this . Thanks for this post x

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      You are such a special human Cass, I love that you get worked up about things like this too! Don’t even get me started on the entitlement thing 😛 Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment! X

  6. Jess says

    So well said Mandy! If only more people were as sensitive and open-minded as you are it would just make the hugest difference. The judgement and nastiness all comes from those who are selfish and insecure of their own actions, and inflict their own anxieties/frustrations harshly and unnecessarily on others. Glad you have put this up here! Maybe some people will be forced to check themselves so that we can exist in a more caring, uplifting community…especially online.

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Thanks so much for your comment Jess. I do agree that the nasties generally come from those who are projecting their own issues onto others. The frustration and anger I feel when I read some of it is so huge. And I generally avoid places online that swarm with judgement, but every now and then I do read things and I am just blown away by how much awfulness some people havei n them :( x

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