Sincerely, anonymous

Sincerely, anonymous

Two female sports journalists created the hashtag #MoreThanMean to start a discussion about the online harassment women face. Just Not Sports helped film the powerful video. Photo courtesy of  Youtube/Just Not Sports

I recently watched a video where random men were selected to read mean tweets posted by other men to female sports writers. The video was extremely powerful because it showed men who were visibly uncomfortable as they read vicious verbal attacks aimed at the women who were simply doing their job.

One of the women began crying, another held strong, as if the words bore no affect on her. The men would sit in silence for long periods of time, interrupting their own silence to apologize before they read the comments, even though they hadn’t actually written them.

This sort of behavior perplexes me. When I found this video online, it had been shared by a friend of mine who mentioned something his mother had told him as a child, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I’m sure vast majorities of people have heard this same piece of advice. Watching this video, however, makes me wonder how many people are actually heeding the message.

I’m not entirely sure what propelled these men to say such terrible things to women they had never met. Pressed to make assumptions, I would assume their anger stems from their inability to mentally advance to a mindset worthy of this day and age.

Typically, when someone feels threatened, they have a tendency to lash out. Do these men feel threatened by these female sports writers? Perhaps the thought of a woman knowing more than them in regard to a specific sport is too much for them to bear. If this is the case, I look forward to these women continuing to perform their jobs, making insecure men such as the ones who posted such awful comments feel belittled.

The absurdity of considering women unable to write about sports is laughable. Personally, I have a female friend who can run circles around me in regard to baseball knowledge, which is by far my favorite sport. She has the names and stats of several players memorized and ready to bring up in heated discussions about most sports.

While the thoughts being shared about these women are horrid, this issue is much larger than just the video I watched. It seems like everyone is a victim of this sort of behavior nowadays. Anonymity on the Internet is being used to verbally attack anyone another person deems worthy of the abuse.

I’ve been noticing this trend on the Internet the past few years. Up until recently, it wasn’t something I had strong feelings about because it had never affected me personally. While I’ve now personally experienced this trend firsthand, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the video I just mentioned.

My experience was an individual at UND who disagreed with an article I wrote for The Dakota Student and posted his thoughts via The Dakota Student’s Facebook page, a far cry from the public shaming witnessed in the above-mentioned video. My experience was simply an individual expressing his thoughts and disagreement with my views. He handled himself maturely for the most part. I would like to reiterate at this moment that I do not consider this individual’s comments to be derogatory in any way, shape or form. His approach was hardly comparable to what the women in the video experienced.

I should point out that the idea of someone posting “anonymously” shouldn’t necessarily suggest they are completely unknown to you. In my case, the individual’s name was stamped right next to his comment. However, even seeing his name didn’t mean I actually knew him. He was simply a profile picture accompanying a name with his own opinionated comment right next to him, not exactly anonymous, but still unknown in a sense.

I’ve considered the opposition, meaning some would argue that perhaps I’m just as bad. My job is to share my opinion with the readers of The Dakota Student, and I have the luxury of not truly being known by the vast majority of individuals who read the paper. However, I go to great lengths to ensure I approach every article I write with intelligent arguments. I research both sides of an issue and share my findings, along with my views concerning the matter.

I even go so far as to submit the majority of my articles to an individual I respect immensely, who is well versed in argumentative writing.

The Internet has provided a platform for people to voice their opinions and typically suffer no consequences for their words. The ability to speak but not be seen has provided individuals with a bulletproof approach to how they voice their thoughts. They no longer worry about the effect of their words; they merely feel the need to share them.

No one sees the person behind the words. People who would normally not say a word are now sharing their thoughts. The same inability for individuals to consider the person behind the phrase rings true for countless other people on the internet.

I wonder if the men sharing their rude comments about the female sports writers mentioned earlier would still make their comments to the faces of the writers. I’m inclined to think they wouldn’t, but I suppose there are people out there who are just as outspoken verbally as they are with typing.

I see this trend almost every day in some manner, and it’s unfortunate. It seems as though society grows further and further apart the more technologically advanced we become. It’s far too easy to type a sentence and click “send” afterward. Perhaps the trend will lessen with time, considering the publicity it has been receiving recently. Then again, I’m of the opinion that it will only get worse.

Matt Eidson is a columnist for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]