Apparently, trolls don’t just exist online anymore, as some of us seemed to think.
Let’s talk about this newly-released Jimmy Kimmel video.
For most of my life, people thought that Internet trolls were merely a vocal minority– recognizing that the actions of one person can ruin something for everyone, you know? And in an online space, it’s hard to maintain control or reprimand someone for misbehavior. Folks have always said that, if not for the anonymity of the Internet and the sensation that you aren’t interacting with an actual human being in front of a different computer screen somewhere else, trolls would not behave the way they do.
In other words, everyone has expected that, in trolls were face-to-face with those they were interacting with, then the very worst examples of human cruelty we see them perform online wouldn’t be replicated.
But this video from Jimmel Kimmel shows that everyone who thought that trolls were only on the Internet, have all been wrong.
Kimmel gathers together a diverse group of six extremely racist people, that you can’t actually believe really exist and have united an absurd belief, to see what would happen if they met an actual family being supported by current DACA laws (that our very-corrupt government is trying to xenophobically and racistly take away).
What Kimmel was hoping would happen was that these racist people would see this very-American family and feel compassion, perhaps some amount of guilt. The experience would make them uncomfortable, make them question why they vehemently opposed DACA, when all that law serves to do is allow people like this family to have a life (and still not an easy one at that).
Instead, the six racist guests literally point their fingers and shout at the couple and their infant daughter, saying all the usual racist things that racists say. You’ll notice none of them talk to or listen to the couple, but talk at Jimmy Kimmel only.
The state of people’s modern behavior is worse than we all thought. The trolls who post disgusting, heartless things online do not exist solely on the Internet. They share those horrible thoughts in their offline lives as well, even directly to the faces of the good people they hate.
Here’s a scene from The Big Sick.
That kind of thing isn’t fictional. There are horrible people in the world, who come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, who say the most racist, awful, and hurtful things directly to people they have chosen not to like based on the color of those peoples’ skin. Or based on some bizarre belief they are superior for other reasons.
There is no logical, sensible reason to discriminate. Feelings of superiority are always wrong, and you will notice that anytime you meet someone who thinks they deserve more, or are more worthy, than a specific group of other people (whether it’s people of color, people who are LGBT, women, people who are homeless or in poverty, people who have been to jail, people of a certain religion, etc., etc.), they are really hard to get along with. I can guarantee you that no one in the group Jimmy Kimmel assembled would actually be friends with each other.
Discrimination does nothing positive. It creates barriers and sows distrust. It prevents us from getting to know different, interesting people, who we can learn from and enjoy celebrating life with.
Just be good, damn it. If your beliefs involve the condemnation of someone else, they are wrong and should be changed. And you CAN change your beliefs.
Here’s a Ted Talk from Megan Phelps-Roper, who left the obviously-discriminatory Westboro Baptist Church, and now works as an advocate to help others do the same. Hopefully this video is helpful to people who would like to make a difference on these kinds of issues, as well as those who hold harmful beliefs towards others.