Thursday, March 15, 2012

Young YouTube users ask 'Am I pretty or ugly?'

Hateful Internet responses to video posts shock, worry columnist

By Paula McFadden, Opinion Columnist

A string of YouTube videos are creating attention on the Internet because of how hateful the responses have been.

The videos are titled “Am I pretty or ugly?” Kids,who appear to be younger than the 13-and-over age requirement for YouTube users, have posted the majority of these videos.

The idea is that the person asks whether he or she is attractive and expects viewers to answer in the comments.

The responses have been alarming.

One girl, known as Kendall, has received a large portion of the hate.

Her profile says her age is 15 but she looks more like 12 or 13.

She received responses that said, “Attention whore children are just plain ugly, she deserves to be beaten, honestly,” and “Y do you live, and kids in africa die?”

One of the most shocking responses was, “You need a hug.. around your neck.. with a rope.”

Of 4.8 million views, Kendall’s video has more than47,000 dislikes.

This is disturbing because those YouTube users, who disliked the video, feel justified.

They feel as though Kendall and others like her asked for it.

We could assume that she was just trying to get attention, but everyone’s done that at some point.

Let’s think about age for a minute. Kendall is at a point in her life when appearance feels important.

Psychologically, Kendall is at the age when she is creating her own identity and self worth.

To have so many viewers react in such a way could have a negative effect on her mental development.

These videos are an example of the reality of the Internet today.

Anonymity breeds hate because there are no repercussions for those who verbally attack others.

If the Internet was a neighborhood, I would not want to walk in it alone.

Human beings become hateful and vicious with one click of a track pad or mouse.

We can try to make the Internet a safer place, but ultimately understanding that not everyone on the Internet has good intentions is the best protection.   

I understand that people on the Internet have the right to freedom of speech, but I challenge those of you who do make hateful comments on the Internet to quit being cowards.

Step away from your keyboard behind the safety of your desk and actually say it to a person’s face.

Odds are you will not be able to say anything,because the human being standing in front of you will have the ability to fight back with words, limbs or tears.

Paula McFadden is a junior at Pacific Lutheran University pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in writing and minors in communication and publishing and printing arts. She lives on-campus but calls Lakewood, Wash., home.