Social Media Normalizes Hate

Nasty comments and unchecked behavior creates an unhealthy online community that comes through the screen and into real life.
This graphic shows all the ways that people can be bombarded with hate and negative messages on social media.
This graphic shows all the ways that people can be bombarded with hate and negative messages on social media.
Larissa Swisher

When you think about social media, what is your first thought?

Many people would say platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. Others might use words like entertaining or inspiring. Still others would disagree and call social media toxic and hateful. 

As for me, I agree see all points of view. 

While social media is entertaining with creators like Brittany Broski or kind celebrities like Selena Gomez. It can also be toxic and hateful with celebrities like Kanye West or Wendy Williams. 

 In fact, I’m cemented to the thought that social media even normalizes the hateful behavior that happens. 

On platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, there is no true way to stop the hateful comments and posts that people make. 

Users can always delete comments or block accounts, but the impression will always be there.  

With mean comments happening constantly, people become influenced by it and decide that they can do it too. This creates a vicious cycle of people being horrible to other people. 

People now simply assume that this type of treatment online is normal and okay. 

One of the biggest problems with toxic and hateful behavior is the fact that it is normalized by celebrities.

People like Wendy Williams, Kanye, and Bryan Adams say things and assume that they can get away with it, and they do.

Wendy Williams is known for her talk show The Wendy Williams Show and her many books, but she is also known for her rude and insensitive comments.

In January 2020, Wendy Williams talked about Joaquin Phoenix on her talk show and made comments about his face.

“I find him oddly attractive…and when he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture, what do you call it? A cleft lip, cleft palate.” 

During these comments, she is making a face to try and “demonstrate” how he looks by pulling up her upper lip.

Adam Bighill, a Canadian football player who has a son with a cleft palate, found her comments to be very insensitive and told her so.

After seeing the hate she was getting Williams took to Twitter a few days later to “apologize” for her comments. 

Wendy Williams tweet “apologizing” for rude comments about Joaquin Phoenix, from The Sun News.

“We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to Operation Smile and the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community.”

As it turns out, Joaquin Phoenix simply has a birthmark. 

Kanye West came into the spotlight again in 2023 for his antisemitic comments during interviews, on Twitter, and Instagram. 

West had many instances when he used this kind of hateful speech online. 

On Oct. 8, 2023, West tweeted, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

Kanye West’s antisemitic tweet, from HARRETZ News.

West went to Instagram in Dec. 2023 to apologize for his comments in full Hebrew.

However many people didn’t find his apology to be sufficient. 

“While he claims that he is committed to learning and greater understanding, this apology speaks to ‘any pain I may have caused,’ rather than acknowledging the pain that he has caused,” says the American Jewish Committee in an interview with AP News.

In May 2020, singer Bryan Adams took to Instagram to explain why he couldn’t perform in London.

“Thanks to some f—ng bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards, the whole world is now on hold,” captions Adams. 

Bryan Adams’s insensitive and hateful comment on Instagram, from CBC News.

After he got hate for his comments he then made another post on Instagram.

“I have love for all people and my thoughts are with everyone dealing with this pandemic around the world.”

His words weren’t only hateful and insensitive, they were also hurtful. 

The fact that celebrities, who have such large followings, find this behavior to be acceptable is disgusting. And the even more disgusting fact is that nobody really checked them on this behavior.

Children are seeing their favorite celebrities make these kinds of comments and think that they should do it too. 

Every day we see people hating other people just because they can. Whether it’s on a video showcasing a recipe or a simple photo of a girl you are bound to find a hate comment. 

Although, don’t get the idea that only everyday people are getting hate, celebrities and creators do too every day.

Hateful comments are normal on almost any celebrity’s social media.

These examples aren’t even the tip of the iceberg, there are many other forms of hateful and unfortunate behavior on social media that are showcased every day. 

Celebrities and other creators promote toxic relationships, exploiting their children, etc.  

And the truly terrifying thing about all of this is that people don’t even blink an eye at it anymore. It has come to a point where it is expected and that’s just not right.

As a society, we need to hold people including ourselves accountable and bring this vicious cycle of hate to an end.

This is the first in a two-part series exploring the negative side of social media in society. Part two will examine the exploitation of children on social media by their parents. 


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