Social Media Standoff
Stopping Cyber Bullies is an Easy Click Away: Leslie Jones Proved That!
If you’ve been paying attention, you know that there are two things that Donald Trump has brought to the forefront in this presidential election: bullying (especially his candor towards Secretary Clinton) and the influence social media has on our society. And while I’m definitely no supporter of The Donald or his bullying tactics, those who follow me know that I am an avid user of social media, and find that there is great fun to be had connecting with people all over the world to share thoughts and ideas,
Facebook and Twitter: Bully Central
Despite this passion for all things social, I’m becoming particularly concerned that two of my favorites, Twitter and Facebook, are becoming less about connecting with others, promoting brands, or honest civil disagreement, and more about spreading hate. These platforms that were once such powerful collaborative tools have become a place where bullies hide behind 140 characters, and fake accounts target anyone who dares to post something that is opposite of what someone else believes. Here’s an example from my own life and one from the life of one of comedy’s biggest stars:
Whether it’s hot-bed issues like race, religion, abortion or politics, I love a good debate – what trial lawyer doesn’t? In fact, you can find me just about every day of the week on cable or national television weighing in on some of the most controversial topics of the day, often delving into sensitive and explosive issues surrounding America’s race problem. A year ago, during the high-profile cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, every time I appeared on CNN or MSNBC to voice what is the well-documented disproportionate amount of injustices that African American men face in the criminal justice system, I was inundated by posts from bullies who called me a racist, a race-baiter, dumb, stupid, and just about every derogatory additive in the entire English language. At this point, I still believed that the best course of action was to ignore these small-brained users and keep speaking the truth. But that would soon change.
Now let’s look to a story about Comedian Leslie Jones – an SNL cast member and star of the new blockbuster Ghostbusters reboot. Over the past few weeks, Leslie has become the target of some of the most horrific racially focused attacks, memes, and abusive hate speech that I’ve ever seen on the Twitterverse. In fact, things got so bad that despite a Twitter ban of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos (one of the worst perpetrators of this ugliness), a supportive letter from one of Twitter’s founders, and even original Ghostbuster Dan Akroyd coming to her aid, Leslie sadly left Twitter because of the intensity and relentless nature of these bullies.
Fighting Back by Speaking Out
Before leaving Twitter, Leslie bravely fought back against the barrage of negative comments by continuing to speak her mind, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for doing so. I, too, have faced the same type of hate being hurled her way, and, like her, I’m embracing the mantra that “enough is enough.” Although I try to refrain from wasting too much of my time responding to bullies, I am no longer an advocate of allowing them to push me around on my social media accounts. After all, it’s a little like someone coming onto your property uninvited and throwing a party without your consent – by law they are considered trespassers and you have the right to forcibly remove them!
Likewise, I now invite folks to post their racist and hate-filled comments on their own pages. I let them know with a warning that they are not welcome, and although they don’t have to leave the virtual universe, they cannot occupy my pages with their hate speech. If they continue their disrespectful and arguably “unlawful” harassing behavior, I use the force of the block button to vanquish them!
Focus On What’s Important
If you’ve ever had a bully in your life, you know that there is something liberating about standing up to them. And, in this politically charged environment where so much is riding on the presidential election, I’m feeling very free. I proudly support Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton, and I am ready and willing to roll up my sleeves and work hard to see the first female President of the United States. The prospect and importance of electing our first female president isn’t something I take lightly, and neither should you.
But there is also another reason I support Hillary Clinton, and it’s because she represents everything her opponent Donald Trump does not. Unlike Trump, she’s not a bully. She doesn’t use social media to air her petty grievances, or take to her bully pulpit to scapegoat others. Instead, she represents herself with dignity, class, and a passionate patriotism – three essential components every president should have, and three that are seriously lacking from the reality TV show host Republican nominee.
There are many real and virtual friends who don’t share in my vision for a better America. That’s okay, they don’t have to. But if you want to be part of the smart and engaging conversations that happen on my or any other social media pages, you must play by the rules of keeping it respectful, always on topic, and, use only facts or respectfully stated opinions to back up your arguments – not bullying tactics.