Ban Hate: A plea against online bullying

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November 28, 2011
Terrell and Janna Wiebe |

Whenever I don’t feel like doing a chore that I need to do, music has always helped me accomplish the task. In Jr. High, I LOVED cleaning my room, because I would put on my favorite BSB cd’s and rock out all Saturday afternoon. My mom would come in to check on me after a while, possibly concerned that it was taking me so long. What she would find was a spotless room and me with a sore throat from belting out classics like “I want it that way” and “Larger than Life.” Since then, my “guilty pleasure” music (GPM) has helped me through years of undesirable chores like unpacking from a holiday and sorting and folding laundry.

The other day while I was making myself some lunch, I thought I’d hit up YouTube and listen to some GPM. My choice that day was old school Justin Bieber – “One Time” to be exact. My last roommate at university went to school in Stratford and we were living together when the song came out, and we used to cook meals and do dishes to this song often.

As the song ended, I went to search another song. But before that I thought I’d browse some of the comments on the song. BAD IDEA. As my husband mentioned in his first post on this blog, user comments usually just make us angry! And this one sure did. But it made me more than angry – it made me sick.

Here it is (un-edited):

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EVERYONE LISTEN UP!

Descent Music Listeners, you rock. On 24th DECEMBER we will all be visiting Justin Biebers 'One Time' video which has over 160 million views.

On that day everyone must flag, leave a negative comment and dislike the video. Help us destroy this modern autotune music that has ruled the world. The goal is to make the dislike bar bigger than the like bar. Copy and paste this to good vids: ANYTHING GOOD! Thumbs up this plan. THUMBS up

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This disturbs and disgusts me for a variety of reasons: This post assists the planning of a pre-meditated online attack against a 17 year old boy. YouTube should pull comments like these down but has not. Justin’s song “One Time” is not autotuned and there are many other artists that rely more heavily on autotune than JB. And do the “descent music listeners” not have anything better to do on CHRISTMAS EVE than bully someone online?

I am getting really sick of people hating on particular celebrities and how it seems to be universally acceptable to do so. Another example of such hatred was the reaction to Nickelback playing the half-time show at this year’s Grey Cup. While I personally do not particularly like Nickelback, I did not feel the need to start a Facebook group about how they should all die or about their sexual orientation (which, by the way, IS NOT AN INSULT. So let’s all stop using the word “gay” in a derogatory way! Thank you). Nor did I feel the need to start a petition against their performance, or boo them when they arrived.

I have come to believe that this type of behavior is a direct correlation with the online bullying that has caused many teens to commit suicide this year.

We, as adults (no matter how young or old we are), need to watch how we talk about people or write about people online, especially around kids and youth. If we encourage or even refuse to discourage this type of online behavior towards celebrities, we only make it acceptable for this generation to speak this way about people they actually know.

One comment on Justin Bieber’s “Baby” video says, “I Wanna Kill Justin Gayber,Stupid Gay,Thumbs Up.” The user’s profile shows a picture of a 13-15 year old boy. This comment is disturbingly similar to comment’s left on Buffalo teen Jamey Rodemeyer’s blog. Jamey was a 14 year old who committed suicide in September after receiving comments like this on his blog: 'JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!'

2011 has been a devastating year for teen suicides. Statistics say that over 300 youth in Canada take their life every year, and that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens in the USA. Online bullying has become an increasing factor for these suicides. A major factor in online teen bullying is that adults aren’t aware of what their children are up to online with so many teenagers online through their cell phones and personal computers.

It is up to us to set an example against bullying, even online. If you let your kids talk about celebrities in a hateful way, then your kids are going to feel empowered to dehumanize people they actually know.

Let’s refuse to empower hate.

Let your life shine acceptance and love.

-Janna

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2039801/Bullied-gay-teen-Jamey-R...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_suicide

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