Online bullying is not something that only today’s teens face. It can happen to anyone; children, adults, and even celebrities! These days, it seems like no one is safe from verbal abuse when there is a screen in front of them.
Earlier today, Star Wars‘ Kelly Marie Tran deleted her Instagram posts while leaving a single line in her bio: “Afraid, but doing it anyway.” Since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, Tran has faced the backlash in the form of racist and sexist verbal abuse.
The cyberbullying faced by Tran is demoralizing by any standard. Celebrities are not immune to the effects of bullying, and while Tran hasn’t released a statement as to why she deleted her posts on the social media platform there has been chatter amongst her fans with most of them are leaning towards bullying being the cause of the deletion.
A lot of people might be thinking, “One celebrity deleted her Instagram posts. Why does it matter?”
It matters because the issue surrounding a celebrity being bullied online and an average teenager being bullied online is the same: our society has become increasingly more accepting of bullying on a digital scale. When text messaging, instant messenger, and even email gained in popularity, the amount of bullying ramped up the pace as well. We have created a digital space where we think our words sometimes don’t have consequences.
Back before texting, instant messenger, Snapchat, Instagram or even Facebook existed, if you wanted to say something terrible to a person, you had to say it to their face. You would see the emotions and how your words affected them. Fast forward to the present time when people have the capability of insulting someone without seeing the consequences. Over the years this has created cultures in which people have become less accepting and more inclined to share their thoughts on social media with no regards to the human on the other side of the screen.
It’s 2018. Now more than ever we need to celebrate differences. We need to cheer alongside those who historically have once not been represented as strong heroes in media. We need to stand together and uplift those who are trying to change the world for the better. We need to see that the world is a beautiful melting pot of human experience, and the only way to survive another tomorrow is by uniting and saying “We believe in you.”
To Kelly, I wish it would be enough for me to apologize for all of the people who have been sexist and racist. I wish getting online and firing back at every person who becomes a bully online would take away any pain they had caused you. I just hope you know that we as fans support you, and maybe we can each take a stand to make the world a better place every day. In the words of Rose Tico: “We’re going to win this war, not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”