Last week there was a funny, yet stomach turning, photograph of Ashley Judd lip locked with ESPN’s Dick Vitale before a University of Kentucky basketball game. The smooch happened to be caught by a photographer of University of Kentucky, and was tweeted out. According to the pair, Vitale and Judd have been friends for over a decade, and were excited to see each other at an important basketball game. It wasn’t long after the photo was tweeted out that Judd began to receive venomous tweets from the bowels of the internet.
“Well apparently, I’m a whore. I’ve been called the C-word,” Judd said. “The way things happen on social media is so abusive, and everyone needs to take personal responsibility for what they work and not allowing this misinterpretation and shaming culture on social media to persist.
“And by the way,” Judd added, “I’m pressing charges.”
Those are some rather serious words, that you would attempt to sue people for 140 characters on Twitter. That said, those words didn’t come in the heat of the moment. It was actually a couple of days later as Judd appeared on Morning Joe and had some interesting thoughts about social media, and the people who write vile items for their own amusement.
There is no question that anonymity of the internet creates a situation where people have less hesitation for saying hateful things. Hiding behind the handle of say @crazyfratboy212 is much easier than saying something to someone’s face. Some people refer to this as “internet muscles”. It truly is a phenomenon that has become a detriment to our society. We saw the same thing happen with former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling who tweeted out that his daughter was going to be playing softball in college. From there, the idiot trolls of Twitter took over and unleashed a multitude of profane tweets about this young girl. Schilling went so far that he turned in a few of the offenders and they both lost their jobs.
There is no question that social media has changed the way that we ingest our news. Its allowed us to keep in touch with friends and family. It has become an amazing fundraising vehicle as we saw with the ALS Ice Bucket challenge last year.
On the flip side, we have also seen people who feel as if social media is their vehicle to spread hate. Its truly an unfortunate thing, and while I sincerely doubt that Ashley Judd will be successful in any sort of lawsuit, my hope is that it can be some sort of a catalyst in changing how people act when conversing online.