Youtube, blog posts, facebook, Instagram, etc, these all have one thing in common, the comment section. A vast wilderness in multiple corners of the internet, the comment section allows users of any media platform post their opinions concerning the content. As is any normal conversation, there are good responses and bad responses with mixed levels of anger and pleasure. When content is personal, these comments can become hostile and damaging. Celebrities are the main target for derogatory and vindictive comment threads that span past the content of the media and towards the personality and life of the creator.
When you become famous, it is often mentioned that you should never look at the comment section. There is no benefit that can come from scrolling through the hundreds of comments left by complete strangers. Of course, we are curious creatures and usually take any chance we get to seek out new information relevant to us. Celebrities and content creators WANT to interact with their audience but the comment section is no longer a safe place to do so. Comments use to be beneficial, but not any longer. “Sexism, racism and homophobia are the norms; threats and harassment are common.” Women are being attacked ferociously by online “haters” based on their gender identity, intelligence, and overall appearance in ways that can damage the self-perception of the author or celebrity. If you were to go on any popular video on youtube or a major celebrities latest photo on facebook, you would be hard pressed to find a stream of comments that aren’t interrupted by crude and hurtful comments.
Take for example any recent post by Taylor Swift, a celebrity that has been under attack recently for her back and forth ideas of right and wrong and overuse of the “victim” card. I recently went on her facebook page and found her latest profile picture, and in the first 10 comments, 3 different people simply commented the snake emoji. This is obviously in reference to the snapchat story that Kim Kardashian posted that called Taylor out for lying to Kanye or for misinforming the media about their interactions. Although I can not hold Taylor Swift innocent for these actions, it is still completely ridiculous to feel the need to comment malicious phrases on her wall. As a member of the general public, Taylor’s personal life and business interactions do not have an effect on us but our words can and will have an effect on her.
Additionally, it’s become such an integral part of the social landscape for creators and celebrities that it’s hard to feel sorry for them anymore. I honestly have become immune to social media bullying for those who put themselves in the public eye, because I have the understanding that they are trained to flesh out the mean comments and frankly not give a damn. Late night shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live create short series such as “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” which have celebrities read tweets random twitter users and respond to them usually jokingly crying or angry.
We trivialize the effect these messages have on celebrities. Their mental health and self-perception can be drastically changed by the constant creation of vicious comments and content directed at their personality, abilities, or appearance.
I think it is important that we make sure to recognize the humanity of celebrities, and how much they are just as vulnerable as anyone else. Think before you comment because there is a large chance that it will have an effect.