Hours of late-night web surfing have taught me one crucial lesson: Never read the YouTube comments.
Regardless of how heartwarming or entertaining a video seems to be, there’s always one person (at the very least) with something hateful or offensive to say. Often, the more distasteful, vulgar, or profane the comment, the more “likes” it receives.
These reactions to these small, seemingly impactless remarks mirror a larger societal tendency to applaud hate, one that perpetuates a never-ending cycle of negativity.
Take a look at popular celebrity figures like Gordon Ramsay and Simon Cowell -- even Donald Trump -- who have all gained reputation and fame for their exaggerated expressions of abhorrence and hatred.
Gordon Ramsay, whose cruelty has even earned him a “Greatest-Ever Insults” list and a “Worst Kitchen Nightmare Dishes” list featuring Ramsay’s crude commentary on Buzzfeed, routinely attacks and denigrates the appearance and intelligence of others, almost always unnecessarily and excessively for the attention. And it works. His profanity, shouting, and temper bring him success, popularity, and more viewers, all ultimately enthusiastically approving his use of hate.
I’m sure Ramsay realizes that he has no reason to swear or act as awfully as he does, just as he’s likely aware that the more dramatic and obscene he is, the more popular and in-demand he becomes. Comparing food to animal testicles (with an f-word here or there) and spewing chains of curses draws people’s interest, proven by the ads and introductions for "Hell’s Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares" which always trumpet flashy clips of Ramsay cursing, throwing objects, or slamming tables.
Simon Cowell is nearly an identical case, drawing viewership and popularity using similar tactics. His flamboyant jabs at hopeful acts are desired and promoted by talent competitions, for if he were not calling show contestants jungle creatures, the shows wouldn't get the same attention. In fact, after Simon Cowell’s departure from "American Idol," viewership dropped dramatically, resulting in continuous judge switches, and eventually the cancellation of the show, only further reiterating the desirability of negativity. Hate draws viewership and attention, and viewership and attention are good. By the transitive property, hate comes to be viewed as good, only amplifying the frequency of hatred.
When we encounter hate, there seem to be two default reactions; we either respond with more hate, against the original hater, or with approval, commending the negativity. Just as hateful YouTube comments are often met with equally hateful rebuttals, people too often choose to express their frustrations over Donald Trump’s use of hate with more hate -- by insulting him, his behavior, and his supporters, with the same profanity and malignancy that they’re attempting to criticize. Beyond being clearly hypocritical, this behavior fuels the attention and approval of hateful behavior, and as a result, the behavior of Trump himself, who benefits. Society, often inadvertently, becomes the driving force behind perpetuated hate.
Generalizing Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers” is undeniably problematic, but shouting “F*** Trump” at a rally and expressing a desire to hurt him possesses similar flaws. Take Trump’s recent San Jose rally as an example, where anti-Trump protesters egged, insulted, and attacked Trump protesters out of frustration for the hate and violence that Trump was advocating. Being hateful and challenging hate with more hate have aligned aftermaths; both tend to land on computer and television screens, broadcasted only to stir up more anger, hatred, and negativity. Neither decreases the hate existing in society. Both have the same ramification of applauding hate.
We criticize the hate in society. We applaud the same hate in society. It seems there is the same motivator behind negative YouTube comments and all the recent hate in a politician’s words, and the motivator is us.