Internet trolls. They’ve become less disruptive and more abusive. I’ve recently had a run in with a specific subreddit on Reddit that has evolved from enjoying the posts and more about bullying the people those posts are about.
A little back story, I’ve recently started my own daily vlog that follows myself and my personal life. On a recent vlog video I excitedly announced that I got into the Google Glass Explorers beta group. Initially, the comments and views were as usual with nice comments and generally good discussion. Since I just started into vlogging on a separate channel than our main channel, I wasn’t getting more than 100 views at a time and no more than about 5 comments or so.
Then my Google Glass video took off, but not in a good way. The video views instantly jumped up to the 301 views freezing mark on YouTube and jumped up to 350 down votes. I was highly confused until I looked at the comments. There were more than 100 comments, each and every one of them filled with some sort of hate speech and extremely cruel comments. As I was removing the truly hateful ones that were highly highly inappropriate, I started to see the words “cringe” and “reddit” being thrown around and immediately became suspicious. A quick Reddit search came up with possibly one of Reddit’s darkest areas, /r/cringe.
This subreddit is filled with “cringeworthly” videos and posts that facilitate people to post hurtful comments to the creators of the work posted. As I loaded up the page, I found my video’s thumbnail and title front and center at the top of the page. That post was filled also with 200+ comments all with hate speech and bullying my excitement for Google’s new product. From here, it seemed that the post commenters spilled over to YouTube to continue their extreme dislike for the video. Plus, I even got a flood of very hateful and threatening to my life emails.
A quick scan of the subreddit showed that it was setup to post “videos you see that are too embarrassing to watch all the way through.” While not specifically facilitating hateful comments, the subreddit seems harmless enough from its description. As I’ve seen from some of the nicer commenters, the subreddit used to be a better place where people could just reasonably comment on the post and not spill over to the original media. But that seems not to be the case now with what I’ve seen and the users going as far as to go to not only that video but others from the user to inflame hate speech and extreme dislike.
Fortunatly as a communications major who have taken classes about bullying and strategies as well as being bullied as a kid, I’ve become desensitized to bullying. But for others, this may not be the case and these very intense hate speech comments can really take effect into someone to extreme states. Hopefully you’ve seen news posts about people killing themselves due to bullying online, these exact things that happened to me is what can push someone to do these extreme acts.
Because users can become anonymous online, they don’t value people’s feelings or the person themself. These online bullies do not have to worry about getting in trouble or any backlash from the other users. Websites like this subreddit facilitate bullying attacks in the mass on people who are innocent and expressing themself in the medium that they see fit.
I can brush off these highly hateful comments, but others may not. To those who may not be used to this kind of bullying can drive them to the edge and hurt someone. There is a difference between leaving a criticizing comment and leaving just plain hate speech and extremely rude comments.
As I was looking through the Reddit post, I was thankful the moderators took some action and banned those who had very extreme comments that was pointlessly bullying the post. But something that I wasn’t expecting was people defending me and calling these pointless bullies out.
Although I was able to easily brush this off, other may not have the mentality to do so. If you are being bullied online and you feel emotional stress about it, seek help from those you trust.
Reddit is an amazing site with joyful subreddits like /r/funny and /r/talesfromtechsupport. There are good sides to Reddit, but also some dark areas that promote bullying, like what happened to me. I would just like to urge those, not to participate in hate speech or bullying.