Making mistakes on the internet should be normalised.
The below piece is an opinion expressed by Shubhangi Singh who is a guest contributor to the website and you can connect with her on her Instagram Page WordsofShubhangi
A fashion and lifestyle influencer Santoshi Shetty recently posted an IGTV video (now deleted) aiming to provide one-on-one sessions addressing mental health issues of her audience while charging a certain fee for the same. The issue picked up a controversial tone and the influencer received backlash and social media hatred. She later admitted her mistake and publicly apologised via a post on her Instagram handle. The question this incident raises is - Why isn't it okay to make mistakes on the internet when in our lives we live on the principle of 'Humans make mistakes'?
Have you ever got called out into your DMs or in the comments section about how the post you shared is wrong & incorrect or when you were just simply stating your opinion? If yes, then welcome to the Dehumanising and Call-out culture of the internet.
When you actively get called out in the name of social media activism your mistakes suddenly feel grave or irreversible which impacts your own mental health like worrying about this entire episode for a longer period of time. We are surrounded by people on the internet who impulsively dehumanise the one who makes even one mistake on a public platform thereafter, collectively calling out that person but we are forgetting that the mistake was made by a ‘Human’, a human like you and me.
Remember that it is easy to type out in rage and anger sitting behind our phone screens but you never really know what impact your words can make on another person’s life, mind & mental health.
Being in the age where there are 100s of Influencers who have an audience base consisting thousands of people, we think its necessary to correct them publicly thus our actions turns into bluntly harassing them, ignoring the fact that we ourselves commit so many mistakes in fact even an influencer is himself/ herself a human first and then a professional.
Social media platforms are used to build a community and to show social support by engaging people who have otherwise remained silent but what dehumanisation and call-out culture do is make people think 10 or 20 times before they speak out publicly because now they have a fear of people not agreeing and sliding into their DMs bashing them or rather publicly commenting on their personal character to target them. Resultant being that they either become distant from putting anything on the internet or worse – entirely get off those social platforms. Often people are insecure and pathologically afraid of being wrong.
What we should instead be preaching is that making mistakes even if you are a public figure is okay and especially when that person has accepted and realised his/her mistake. Accepting and realising our own mistakes comes into the process of learning and let us not ignore the fact that we all are learning.
“Moreover, publicly issuing an apology takes immense courage and self-reflection which itself is a big step towards self-improvement.”
Being a mere audience where we are just exposed to the bright sides of a person, we don’t know what mental state of that person is or if our own call-out actions in the name of mental health activism is actually caring about another person’s mental health who made the mistake in the first place. Isn’t this ironic in itself?
I however don’t mean to deny voicing out against the wrong or speaking out for things which contributes to the activism you support. We, as individuals, tend to gang up against someone who says or does something which collectively people did not agree to, while following the herd of people who showed dissent against one person. It's okay to feel anger or rage when something you believe or support has been wrongly used but the moment that same anger turns into hatred towards one individual, the entire intention of voicing against wrong turns into another call-out.
Former American President Barack Obama addressed the call-out culture at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. He says “I do get a sense sometimes among certain young people that the way to make change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong word or verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because, ‘Man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.’ That is not activism, that is not bringing about change.”
It should never be about bullying or deciding who is wrong who is right but rather bringing a change into societal behavior while accepting that the other person is willing to learn and change even after being called out in front of thousands of people.
“We need to make the internet safer and kinder where people don’t fear from putting up an Instagram story sharing their views or have anxiety about what if they get banished and bullied further.”
Choose wisely when you are showing dissent over social media. This flowchart explains it well-
The internet is already polluted and contributing to it is the last thing you would want to do. Before commenting nasty words on that influencer post, think with a bigger picture of how that comment and your words will affect that person. In these times of need where everything is haywire, we need to be extra mindful of what we are saying to other people publicly.
Let’s make the internet more humane.
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If you liked this post you can also read the blog by Purva Sethji 'The urgency of having an opinion on everything'