Since joining Twitter in August 2011, I’ve watched the rise and fall of trending topics, watched blue checks spring up beside names, seen the rise of parody accounts, quote accounts and accounts that are strictly based on the newly trendy concept of Tumblr girl sadness.
During this span, I’ve also tweeted a whopping 26,600 times. That’s an average of 25 tweets per day. Through these numbers I, and the rest of Twitterverse, have become desensitized to what is OK to say, and what shouldn’t even be thought.
There are Twitter accounts like “The Funny Racist,” an account quickly approaching 50,000 followers. There’s nothing funny about racism, yet this account still exists. It tweets disgusting statements such as “Why do they put cotton in the top of pill bottles? To remind blacks they were cotton pickers before they were drug dealers,” and “I’m not racist, racism is a crime, and crime is for black people.” While there are few who actually retweet or favorite these tweets, there’s still the alarming number of people who follow, insinuating that while they might not want racist sentiments littering their accounts, they still want to read them on their timelines.
Similarly, there’s an account that’s recently gained momentum about a fictional African-American boy named “Daquan” and his relationship with white girls. This account focuses on stereotypes and slurs but has been extremely successful in gaining followers and retweets.
Enter Nash Grier, a celebrity from the social media app Vine and the video-sharing platform YouTube, who is known for not only his clear blue eyes, but also his ability to make, and quickly delete, offensive videos. In his latest uneducated slip-up, Grier released a Vine sharing his opinions on HIV testing. The video begins with an HIV testing PSA that states, “It’s not a gay thing.” Grier then flips the camera to himself and screams “Yes it is!” along with a homophobic slur that I’d rather not repeat.
Outraged, thousands of people from and supporting the gay community unleashed a well-deserved attack on Grier and his various social media accounts. Fellow YouTube star Tyler Oakley even shared a thought with Grier, “Promoting a false stereotype that HIV only affects gays to his millions of teen fans is extremely dangerous. Call me and people like me, ‘f–’ all you want, but spreading false information about deadly diseases is next level.”
Grier then deleted the video and issued an apology, the sincerity of which is questionable. I think it was more of an apology to keep his fans happy than one of remorse, but the jury’s still out.
I bring these examples forward because they’re just a glimpse into the intolerant world of social media. The things that we are saying are uncalled for, uneducated and just plain stupid. There’s no reason anything so ridiculous should be making its way out of our mouths under the premise of being a joke — even in the shape of 140 characters or a seven-second video. I’m tired of intolerance being perpetuated by a generation fighting to end it, and everyone else should be, too.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @mikayrodr
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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