It gets blamed and criticized for creating a hostile and rude society, giving freedom to expression that previously often only had local exposure.
That’s specious reasoning, because the opinions, attitudes and demeanor readily on display through various social media are the actual reflections of the people posting those comments. In other words, those opinions were always there, just not “everybody” got to see them.
Certainly, when a poster gets some follow-on comments, there may be a misconceived feeling of validation, but “likes” notwithstanding, the person would likely post the comment irrespective of others’ support.
Which is why I am so often befuddled by the vituperation rained down by social media people on others who voice their opinions.
The recent kerfuffle over the short speech Meryl Streep gave at the Golden Globes is an excellent example. The level of vitriol visited upon her is consistent with the rancorous election America just exited. And, in fact, that vitriol is just fine.
The negativity towards her comments is every bit as valid as the comments that she made. It is precisely because we live in America that people can insult and deride her speech.
There is only a problem when people suggest she doesn’t have the right to speak.
Of the many posts I’ve read, both for and against her, about the speech, the only ones that bear no place on any platform in America – social media, TV, water cooler – are those that say she has no right to speak out.
And the reason so often stated for her purported lack of right to speak: because she is an actor.
Come on, folks! What is she when she is not acting? She is you or me. If you have a problem with her money or prestige, that says more about you than her. By that manner of reckoning, no CEO, real estate mogul or other wealthy and luxury-owning person should be allowed to comment.
Honestly, how is the opinion of an actor any less relevant than a coal worker or an accountant or a homeless person?
They don’t understand the common man? Some of these actors scraped up tips and odd jobs while they waited for their hopeful break (ever hear the term “starving artist”?). There’s a good chance they have experienced more of the working class than a lot of people in Washington.
If a person has such a negative visceral reaction to actors “speaking out”, social media provides the equivalent of the TV’s solution (changing the channel) by simply hiding the post or tweet. In other words, just like TV, “Don’t watch it if you don’t like it.”
America’s freedoms only work if they are available to all. We the people are guaranteed our right to our opinions and many laws protect our means of expressing it.
That doesn’t change based on what job we work at. Actors are people too.