OK, this shit must stop.
Selfies are stupid enough, and I know there are entire websites for girls and guys gone wild. They get naked and hope the internet loves them. I get that our lives are online and the younger you are, the more likely you have an entire portfolio of body parts on Instagram.
However, this story (Global News) is a whole other animal.
Young Canadian men had just won the big hockey prize and their entire country was on their feet freaking out about the big win of their players. The smiling lads completed their victory cruise around the ice with the trophy. Then they went back to their locker room to celebrate, shower and get dressed.
There was an unfortunate photo snapped by another member Canada’s list of pride, a gold medal Olympian who was fan boying in the locker room. He posed for a shot with some players and in his excitement he posted the photo on social media and hadn’t seen that it was photo-bummed.
The player in the background was nude, and when the mistake was discovered the Olympian took the photo down. But this is social media, it is out there. It is now locked in forever so the team and that boy can’t do a damned thing about it. The public has shared and shared, chuckling a little, creating a tsunami of cyber schadenfreude. People thought it was funny, or cute, or at worst unfortunate.
It isn’t cute. That boy didn’t choose to show his ass to the world. He was in a locker room on what was probably the happiest day of his young life. His team had just handed the Russians their asses in a world championship game, and yet somehow this became about his ass.
Players spend years on the ice and in locker rooms; it is their place. They expect to be able to shower and change, and they expect not have their photos snapped and watch their backsides dragged through every single social media site on the internet. The legit news sites had the decency to blur out most of the cheeks, but it is making the rounds nevertheless.
What it comes down to is not one kid’s bum, it is about no longer having control of what happens to your image and what people say about it. The moment somebody clicks on “post” with an ill advised picture, some troll out there takes a screen shot. Then it’s on. The online world flocks around people who have been made to feel the fool, and it laughs at them. The targets of the pointing fingers may not send them direct cyber bullying messages, but the commentary on these human foibles is invariably mean spirited and sad.
I always picture internet trolls to be basement-dwelling, pockmarked-neck-beards who have nothing better to do than think of terrible things to say. They believe they are so clever and gleefully congratulate themselves for saying horrible things to undeserving people. They prey on photos of drunk girls passed out in bar washrooms and surreptitiously taken shots of people who are considered ugly, or disabled and struggling, or just different. They contribute nothing, and increasingly there are more filters to keep them off the better-monitored websites. We are starting to starve the trolls.
What if it isn’t anonymous trolls? Sometimes the bullying comes from friends online. People are pretty damned brave with nothing but a keyboard between them and their victim. People get their knickers in a twist about dumb shit on Facebook, and they turn into screeching shrews. The best answer for those folks is to tell them that just because they are offended doesn’t make them right. And then move on.
What makes it all worse is that there seem to be no consequences for cyber bullying, and there’s nowhere to appeal the injustice of victimization.
We had an opportunity to do the right thing with the locker room photo. Just not share it, not laugh at it, not take the win away from that young man… and we blew it.
Way to go, internet.