Don’t Judge People by Their Avatar

I follow a fascinating group of artists and entrepreneurs on Instagram, and their postings feed my imagination and make me think. My profile is full of motivational sayings and slogans that reflect my thoughts about life, behavior and society.

While the people I follow are diverse, I’ve noticed almost all have one thing in common. At one time or another they’ve been the victim of “haters,” those people online who post nothing but insulting and mean comments on their pages. They seem to be even more disparaging to women and minorities.

Thanks to social media and our selfie culture, people can soak up all of our life activities and throw shade when and where they see fit. But why is the focus more negative for women and minorities?

Journalist Jamie Nesbitt Golden conducted an experiment last fall where she masqueraded as a white male hipster on Twitter to prove that responses to her posts were related to the fact that she is a black woman.

“The number of snarky, condescending tweets dropped off considerably and discussions on race and gender were less volatile,” she wrote. “I had suddenly become reasonable and level-headed. My racial identity no longer clouded my ability to speak thoughtfully, and in good faith. It was like I was a new person.” As I write this her photo for @thewayoftheid is still a smiling white man.

Let’s revert back to the old days when people were quiet if they had nothing nice to say. Let’s take a page from the latest hashtag for change #takebackthetech and keep the Web ripe for discourse and safe from haters.