People are getting more bold. Or at least their online persona is. Check out any videos on YouTube and chances are the top rated comments would be ones that have a smart ass criticism about how God-awful the song/ artist/ video direction/ video production/ video lighting/ *insert your choice of complaint here* is. That or they will be defending the video in vain.
If you know what is good for you, you'll stick to the crowd and do the former. Because in the event where you do defend that particular video, you'll probably just end up inciting more hate comments. If you're lucky, you'll be called a f*****. If you're not, well, take a trip down homophobic paranoia lane.
All this critical approach to things would have been a warm welcome in lieu with the birth of a vocal thinking society if not for the hardcore fact that in reality, most of us don't have the balls to say half the things we say online.
"The Internet has given people an artificial confidence in themselves to say things that they wouldn't normally say away from the virtual platform. People feel safer when they have this 'curtain' of anonymity protecting them when they make harsh comments. When they realised such shield exists, it gave them a false sense of confidence," said Julian Gan, a 21 year-old student majoring in Psychology at University of Canterbury.
Song Sook Kin from Taiping shared the same sentiments with Gan.
"One can fully express themselves better when they remove the pressure of being associated with that particular comment," said the 20 year-old Universiti TunkuJournalism student.
However, this does not mean that she endorses the act of hating anonymously online. Far from approving such acts, Song thinks that is is "cowardly" to post up hurtful comments on online forums and YouTube videos .
"All these anonymous haters probably found comfort in knowing that they can retract their statement with a click," Gan answered when asked for additional reason that prompt people to post up such comments.
This begs the question, does deleting a hurtful comment takes away the sense of pain and humiliation that is inflicted by the remarks made in the first place?
Gan doubts so. "The pain and humiliation does not go away with the removal of the comment. It is very likely that the person who was targeted in the hate comment will never be able to remove that stinging memory from his psyche."
The truth is posting hate comments online has a bigger consequence than say, passing the remark over coffee with your girlfriends. Given the universal quality of the Internet, things might reach catastrophic proportion if you ruffled the wrong feathers.
"With the Internet, it is very easy for things to go viral. In the case where your hate comment becomes the next trending topic on Twitter, it won't take long before it reached the whole world," said 21 year-old Michelle Leong, a student at Sunway University.
"Memorable comments can go viral, international and can do so much damage to a person," Song further affirmed Leong's statement. If you can't see the magnitude of this scenario. Try picturing someone from an oppressed developing country commenting that the Prime Minister is an imbecile who should probably just stick his rear up a sugarcane on a social networking site. Before you know it, bam! Helloooo evening news!
On a lighter note, this was what that happened to the now infamous Rebecca Black. Her music video Friday garnered so much dislikes and negative comments that it propelled her to the center of the mass media's spotlight who saw it part of their duty to society to further trash her.
Let's take a step back and consider this, is the online platform giving people a reason to hate? Sure, Black's video might have caused an uproar in online forums where people drone on and on about how her music sucks and what not. But then again, no one is going to the street protesting with banners that read "F*** you bitch, you ruined music for all of us".
"The online platform doesn't give people a reason to hate. It actually gives people a way to find others who share the same opinion as they do on a certain subject," said Gan.
"Why take the hassle to do street protests and hate banners when commenting on YouTube has the same effect?" Song offered. "I don't think online platform gives people a reason to hate, it actually gives people an opportunity to hate. Besides deep down, I believe that all of us have an inner bitchy self."
Bitchiness aside, we have to acknowledge that online hating goes deeper than the superficial idea of mocking someone's hair or make-up, have a good laugh about it and then log off. You might have the privilege of hiding behind a veil of anonymity but your remark goes to someone who does not enjoy the same privilege of anonymity that you do.
If you're a masochist, then by all means go ahead and hate. But in this context, just don't be a closet freak.