OPINION: On the need to make online and offline space less toxic

Take a deep breath and calm your online self

Intolerance could be the word of the decade with the way things are going. Some people are often so intolerant, so impatient that if things aren’t going their way, they get angry, at times even abusive.

Last week, a year-old video of stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua surfaced on the internet. Joshua is a stand-up comedian in India who had made a joke about people’s response to a statue of a local icon. The joke was taken out of context by a few, and resulted in Joshua getting threats of violence and rape. Since then, a lot of hate is being directed to stand-up comedians and their “crass” comedy.

READ MORE: Writers including Rowling, Atwood pen open letter against threat to free speech

READ MORE: Dual Canada-U.S. citizens face hostile reception in Port Alberni

Author JK Rowling has been an object of hate for several people these days. Once, a much-loved author, is now facing constant online bashing including death and rape threats for her opinions on trans rights and trans people. She was also the target for Trump supporters who threatened her and threatened to burn Harry Potter books for her anti-Trump stand.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, UK’s Labor MP who had made some ludicrous comments over JK Rowling’s stance on Trans rights and had also made comments suggesting Jewish claims to Israel were not progressive and were a dangerous nationalist idea, also received a lot of online backlash and even threats to his office. Last week, he resigned from his position citing a “torrent of online hate.”

Such aggression towards other people, and their opinions is dangerous, harmful and nothing short of toxic. But it is not just online, on social media that people are showing this toxic behavior; people are also taking this hate offline and in person. There have been instances when such aggressive behavior has manifested into offline harassment.

Just recently, a Houston local restaurant in B.C., posted on their Facebook account that its staff had faced customer-aggression with staff being abused, stuff being thrown at them for refusal of service for not following guidelines and protocols for Covid-related safety. The restaurant owner stated in her post that she had “personally been abused more in the last three months than in her 30 years of customer service.”

It is time for people to take a deep breath, calm down and stop using violence as a means to stop others from expressing their voice. Everyone has a right to their opinions, restaurants have a right to refuse service, comedians have a right to laugh over what they think is funny. If something offends you, something bothers you, something doesn’t sit right with your views, express it or go down the legal road instead of taking matters in your own hand and threatening to be violent or actually becoming violent.

Remember, it is not “my way, or the highway”, so just take a deep breath and calm your restless selves.

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