Keeping it 140: Social Media Meanness


The Interwebs have gotten all kinds of folks thinking they’re the stars of a digital Def Comedy Jam.

From past mockery of both Eli and 50 Tyson, it’s seemingly en vogue to pick on people regardless of their seeming circumstance in life.

Twitter dragging should be an actual Olympics sporting event.

But in all this ki ki-ing and cackling, has anyone noticed that the level of meanness in general has increased exponentially?

If you had any doubt, check out the foolishness that Shaquille O’ Neal and other grown men who individually opted to make fun of a man with a rare genetic condition…and it seems they only bothered to apologize AFTER being convicted in the court of public opinion.

Instagram pictures of former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal mocking a picture of Warren resident Jahmel Binion, 23.

Yeah, hee-larious photo, right?

The word “mean-spirited” doesn’t begin to describe these acts, but that’s not the worst of it.

Personally, I’ve noticed an uptick in battle-rap ready statuses and comments, even on Facebook, once thought to be the more civil of the social media platforms.  Everybody knows you can get it how you live on Twitter at any time.  (Just ask one of the queens of mean, Lolo Jones.)

It’s more odd to see friends, family, acquaintances and friends of friends going full Maleficent on each other about topics from public policy to pop culture.

Social media is powerful because it allows anyone to make a statement, without the help of a media mouthpiece or even a blog, and I see that as positive.

But it’s also becoming a place where people– even with their identities fully exposed and pictures prominent– are sounding more and more like anonymous trolls. Just in case you don’t take this seriously, please note that keyboard thugging and putting folks on blast has led up to actual, factual fatalities….just two even in the last few weeks in Chicago where JET is based.  Click HERE and HERE for some very sad stories of keeping it real gone horribly wrong.

Bearing that in mind, maybe we all might want to take a step back next time we decide to go HAM when our favorite show, food, restaurant or star is assailed online.   (Beyonce stans, you listening?)  Ask yourself three questions before you attempt hilarity or hostility on your personal pages:

(1) Would you speak this way to someone during a one-on-one, face-to-face discussion?

(2) Is name-calling really any way to “win” any argument you’ve been involved in IRL?

(3) Are you trying to get booked on Comedy Central?  If not, is your “comedy” called for?

If your answer to any one of those is “no,” then I would strongly suggest dialing back your remarks or taking a few minutes to consider the impact before you post.  I know that social media makes communication immediate, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

YOUR TURN: Have you noticed more meanness online?  If so, what do you think can be done about it or has that social media ship sailed?