By Lyka Peng, G10
*warning: mature content*
There are a lot of things that pop up on my Instagram feed. Even after endless scrolling, the posts usually consist of fashion, makeup tutorials, memes, female empowerment, and much more. Instagram, or any social media app really, can be a refuge for those who want to spread positivity and use their platform for good. I try to expose myself to theis as much as possible.
However, there is more negativity on the internet than I’d like to admit. There are various social media users that downgrade, make fun of, and offend people that do not share the same cultural background as them. More specifically, the kind of ignorant netizens that throw around slurs and think it’s okay because A) ‘it’s cool’, B) ‘I didn’t actually mean it’, and C) ‘my account is on private anyway’. I’ve seen plenty of posts that use the ‘N-word’ or the ‘F-word’ casually, even if the users are not part of that rightful community. Another popular choice of language is using ‘gay’ as an insult, as if seeming more feminine or LGBTQ+ is a bad thing. How about using ‘slut’ or ‘whore’ as a way to put down girls for acting and dressing how they like?
Ring a bell? You definitely know what I’m talking about.
This is the type of content that is surprisingly prominent in our very own community. It goes against everything that we are taught at ISPP– to be open-minded, caring, and aware of our surroundings. The most disappointing thing is that it does not only occur on our digital platforms, but beyond our screens as well. It is so integrated into our lifestyles that we cannot even differentiate what is okay or not okay to say anymore. Are we just going to pretend that it does not hurt people in real life? Are we just going to pretend that we don’t have friends from these communities? Ever wonder why these slurs emerge from communities that have been oppressed and discriminated against?
The times have changed drastically. Black people are reclaiming the ‘N-word’ as theirs. In the early 19th century United States, during the enslavement era, this word was once used as a way to dehumanize and subjugate slaves. Now it is used by black people to address friends in casual repartee. The LGBTQ+ community are reclaiming the ‘F-word’ as a way to combat homophobia– a way to show that they are no longer afraid of the word or those who made fun of them. The point is, there are plenty more words that were once used with negative connotations towards minority groups, but are now being taken back and rebranded to combat oppressive societal norms.
Whether it’s for clout or relevancy, you need to be held accountable for your own bigotry. Seriously, it’s 2020.
Therefore, I am going to be keeping this straightforward and concise. Do your friends and family a favor. It’s not too late to do some research and educate yourself. It’s not too late to practice spreading positivity. It’s not too late to be calling out those who are using these words as well. After all, words hold power. The power should belong to its rightful group.