On Monday, Leslie Jones was met with an unmerited barrage of vile attacks on Twitter. Bullying is problem we all know, but as confirmed by Leslie Jones' experience, it's evolved to live online, too.
Personally, I wasn't really bullied, but I did have two experiences of bullying in high school.
One was with a guy who just didn't like me; one day, we got into a fight, and after that, we became best friends with no explanation.
The other guy was just jealous of me. So, he tried to spread all kinds of rumors about me being gay and would try to hit me when there was a crowd around. One time, I defended myself in front of everybody. I didn't win, and he didn't win. I caught his foot as it went for my torso and neutralized his physically aggressive assault, and he never bothered me again.
Regardless of my own limited experiences, bullying is a massive issue across our schools today. One in four kids reportedly regularly experience some kind bullying.
So, imagine the exponential possibilities of bullying on a virtual platform like Twitter.
Today, we all have a new schoolyard. It's called Twitter, and the bullies are alive and well. What has already been an issue across America and all over the news is now finding itself in all our social media feeds, and it's multiplying and not reducing.
It's no secret stand-up comedian and actress Leslie Jones was attacked not so much for her acting in "Ghostbusters" -- the new movie that was the starting point for attacks on Jones in the first place -- but mostly for her racial identity.
Racism is the identity-based privileging of one race over another. It is also frequently followed up by aggressive scapegoating, public shaming and slurs.
Here's a direct example of racism gone wild toward Leslie Jones. The tweet below is making the comparison between Jones and a gorilla, as if she is somehow less evolved. This is despicable shit.
If you ask me, the least evolved one is the person who goes to great lengths to make the comparison. How is this acceptable human behavior?
Hardly anyone actually critiqued "Ghostbusters." People mainly focused on Jones' race. It's as if people wanted to be racist just to be racist.
The explanation behind hurting fellow humans comes down to education, parenting and the values learned from one's environment. This exposes America to a stark reality: Racism hasn't left it.
In fact, right now, those who perpetuate it don't want it to leave. Racism actually makes some people feel good about themselves. How demented is that?
Interestingly, Twitter seems to be the breeding ground for such hateful ideology, which makes me wonder: Does the viral nature of online racism have to do with how social media, namely Twitter, encourages this kind of online activity?
If that is the case, and it seems to be, Twitter needs to change its policies. If it doesn't, it might be seen as an accomplice to such disgusting behaviors.
According to Scientific American, bullying is defined as "...a specific type of aggression in which (1) the behavior is intended to harm or disturb, (2) the behavior occurs repeatedly over time, and (3) there is an imbalance of power, with a more powerful person or group attacking a less powerful one..."
Based on that definition and Leslie Jones' words in her tweet, she was bullied. It doesn't matter that it happened online, in this case, on Twitter.
It's exactly what happened without a doubt.
Americans take their rights seriously -- maybe too seriously. That being the case, Americans should consider a few ideas in light of what people said to Leslie Jones.
One, just because we all have the right to do something doesn't mean we should always do it.
Two, people need to be better educated on equality and small-mindedness.
America, as it stands today, is not a nation of racial equality. History would agree with that.
There have also been many recent events, like the racially motivated murder of nine black people at a church in Charleston and the shooting of Philando Castile, to remind us of this.
America is in the second wave of another civil rights movement. We all cannot undermine where we are and have come as a country. To minimize this problem is to minimize the roles we all play, in reality and on social media, in changing it.