Guys. Let’s talk about the internet for a moment, shall we?
The internet is a wonderful thing in many ways. It’s a tool for learning, a means of communication, and a way of connecting millions of people and helping them form communities as meaningful as real world ones. Also, as the Avenue Q song teaches us, it’s for porn.
However, there is also something else to talk about it when it comes to the internet, where anonymity, distance and a lack of immediate consequence means that people feel they can say whatever they want, to whomever they want. Today it has been speculated that Joss Whedon left Twitter due to death wishes and backlash from fans over the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in particular, over the way that Black Widow was written in the movie.
If you read my review of Age of Ultron, you will know that, like many of these people who sent angry messages to Whedon, I had problems with how Black Widow was characterized, particularly in relation to some things she says about her past. Did I like that scene? No. Did I think it was good writing? No. But did I react by harassing someone I do not know online because of these things? No. No, I did not.
Yes, I wrote a review that talked about the movie’s negative points. But that is because that was how I genuinely felt about the film. I am a film reviewer and I approach every review with the aim of getting my opinion across and doing so honestly, good or bad. I enjoyed some parts of Age of Ultron, and I didn’t enjoy others. If I were ever to meet Joss Whedon face-to-face and I talk about these opinions, I would do so politely because that is how I was raised to talk to someone. You would not go up to someone in public and yell at them that they suck and should die, so why does the cocoon of the internet make it okay?
New flash: it doesn’t.
This is not okay. This is bullying, plain and simple, and it makes me a little angry that people think they can act this way. I have my problems with Whedon’s work, yes, but to quote a Marvel hero that is close to my heart, “I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they’re from.”
Then again, maybe the speculations are wrong. Maybe Whedon quitting Twitter is nothing more than an incredibly busy man taking a break and distancing himself from the circus that is social media. However, whether it is the cause or not, that doesn’t change the fact that we need to look at how we treat each other online. Whether they’re famous, or someone from your high school, it does not matter. Don’t say something to someone on Twitter that you wouldn’t say to their face.
Images courtesy of Marvel and wrench-wench.tumblr.com.