If the Internet–which began with so much promise–can eventually increase kindness and civility in the world, that would be amazing. It’s sure off to a crappy start though, to judge by big stories like The Fappening and GamerGate, which seem to expose such a grotesque underbelly of societal anger and misogyny that one could easily give up hope. But for every flaming comment, lurking troll and bullying threat there is someone telling his or her own individual story. (We know, for instance, from the increased Internet exposure to the LGBT community that the “his or her” in that last sentence doesn’t adequately cover everybody.) The undeniable mass of voices telling their own individual stories brings renewed hope that many more people can learn to respect each other through continued exposure to people who are different from us.
That’s why the recent story by throwmeaway4325 on Reddit is important. She begins “I am an ugly woman. Objectively, I really am.” And she proceeds to say how the world treats her because of it. It’s the story of just one night, where she was repeatedly treated like a second-class citizen. She’s candid and not self-pitying–well, not too self-pitying. She seems to be just reporting the fact, interlaced with how the treatment made her feel. She ends the post with “Please be kinder to ugly people.” It’s similar to the advice/plea that a middle-aged mother gave some young adults who were shaming her on the beach earlier this year. Be kind, she said, think of the other person’s feelings. That letter went viral, too Before the Internet we often didn’t know what the “other person’s feelings” were. Now we do. Be Kind.