Recently, the South Korean artist Crush was accused of racism during a concert because of a 2-second video of him skipping two girls’ hands. It turns out that the two girls are Black, and this raised criticism throughout social media, including on Twitter and Instagram. The singer later uploaded an apology on Instagram and said that it was hard to touch everybody’s hands because of safety issues and had no intent to discriminate against his fans by their skin color. However, people were still angry at his actions and kept pointing their fingers at him until other video clips of him unable to high-five with several Korean fans spread the next day. Just like nobody believed the false assumptions in the first place, netizens supported him and defended him against the few remaining slanderous comments. Unfortunately, this is not the first and will not be the last incident where people make arbitrary judgments without solid evidence. Keep in mind that a two-second video of a crowded stage most likely cannot be solid evidence!
Seeing the way people judge others and their actions, it came to cross my mind how easy it is to manipulate people. Somehow creating provocative issues can get people to believe in it. Rational judgment does not exist when it comes to the actions of others and there is no such thing as “another point of view.” The only important thing is what we see and what we believe at this moment. These statements are true — at least for many people on the internet.
Is judging people something innate or is it something we learned and got used to? After all, many people like to think that if they see one flaw, or something shown as a flaw, that one trait represents the whole person. People like knowing what kind of person one is as soon as they can, and constantly try to collect every action they take and connect them to an identity they have constructed. For a lot of us, the joy of putting all the puzzle pieces together is equal to the joy of revealing someone’s human nature after finding a flaw, thinking to ourselves, “I knew it. I knew you were that kind of person all along!” The irony is that we don’t feel the need to find more than one puzzle piece to know the person.
No matter how many misunderstandings happen and produce innocent victims, the masses seem to keep making the same mistake over again. No matter how many times we are educated to look from different perspectives, emotional appeal often takes over rational judgment. What can we do to stop ourselves from making this kind of mistake and promote a healthier online culture?
According to Erik Thomas of CBS Detroit, there are some steps we can take to not fall for everything on the internet, thus being more skeptical when approaching these issues. First, we should at least check the source and determine its reliability. There must be more public evaluation, especially if the original source is an individual user. However, this does not mean that popular news outlets can skip that verification process. Second, opinions and facts are two totally different things. Keep in mind that opinions are most likely to be biased and prejudiced, while facts are something confirmed to be true and backed up with plenty of evidence. Lastly, keep asking questions. Think about the different possibilities and what you might have done yourself in a given situation. Rule out the bad intentions first and try to think of them in a different light. Try to put your own prejudices and judgments aside.
Yes, it is hard to make rational judgments when we hear only one side of the story, especially when there seems to be significant evidence. We want to empathize and give support to the originator of the claims before thinking of the possibility that they might not be the victim after all. Even if there is the technology to heavily distort and fabricate the evidence, we like to think that most people are exposing others for a good cause. However, we should know that as individuals, we are responsible for our actions and words as well as how much they can impact others. Pretending nothing happened after bashing innocent people on the internet and making false judgments should not be acceptable anymore.