Despite his political stance and identification with the lower class, Ed Miliband has been ridiculed, taunted and rejected by members of the public. All of this is down to being slightly odd-looking. It seems that for our society, for the people who he will soon govern, appearance overrules politics. Surprising? Unfortunately not. In today’s society, the public figures and celebrities who we see in the papers, on the television – and just about everywhere we turn – seem to be a punching bag for the insecurities and ferocity that every normal person, who reads the paper instead of appearing in it, turn to in order to release pent-up anger and frustration.
Perhaps it is down to old-fashioned jealously. Or perhaps it is something more than that. Possibly, this is more than just picking on other people to bring ourselves up, and seeds to something more.
Following his ‘bacon sarnie’ disaster, Ed Miliband was cruelly slated: for simply not enjoying his breakfast, he was deemed as not being at one with the public, thinking he’s better than everybody else, not relatable, and, of course, people remarked on the unsavoury way he shovelled the sandwich in his mouth. What is it about public figures that bring out such an ugly, unacceptable side to us?
These people who take to the internet to criticise the public have aptly been named “trolls”. A troll (not the internet kind) is an ugly, mythical creature who dwells in isolated places,work together in small groups, and are rarely helpful to human beings. I cannot help but notice that the mythical ‘troll’ does not seem all too dissimilar to the internet troll.
These trolls work together in small hate clubs that join together over the internet, uniting over distaste for a reality TV star or a mutual hate for a politician.
They dwell in isolated places: the corners of cafes clutching their phones, the attic of their house, underneath their covers with the computer screen dimly lighting up their shelter. They cannot be seen, nor heard: only their trails can be found, the footprints of loathing and abuse they leave in their wake.
And of course, these internet trolls are in no way helpful to human beings. What joy do they bring to our lives? Scrolling through a celebrity’s Instagram, between the other decent comments, you cannot avoid a troll’s sneer of a comment. They are never amusing nor intelligent, and they make no input into anybody’s lives: in fact, many go unseen. So, I beg the question, why do it?
Kim Kardashian, reality star and wife of rapper Kanye West, has one of the highest amounts of followers on photo-sharing site Instagram, with over 19 million fans. On a recent photo she uploaded of herself, dressed in a black suit at Fashion Week, people couldn’t help but abuse her, with comments such as “You killed fashion week!” “What’s wrong with that woman” and, “You disgust me. You should not be famous; you’re an embarrassment to our world”. Indeed, there is not a single photo on her Instagram that has not been battered with abuse.
On ‘The Student Room’ a popular website for students to share information and discussions, the question “Does anyone actually like Ed Milliband?” appeared. Some of the comments were so explicit and disgusting, they cannot be shared. Some were milder saying: “I hate his nasal voice…and he looks like an inbred….why don’t you clear your seemingly blocked nose before you give speeches.”
I’m sure that the people who write these comments are not perfect and flawless. I’m sure they have bad hair days and blocked noses and wear odd clothes. People in the public eye once held respect: the general public looked to those in the public eye for inspiration, to dream bigger, to have courage to pursue their dreams, to work harder in their lives.
I wholeheartedly agree, some people who are deemed ‘famous’ should not be given such a title. They should not be privileged enough to be role models to our children, and to the general public. Yet does that give these people, people who are just like us, reason to be subject to such exploitation?
It’s as if we’re in the playground again, and celebrities and public figures have had a post-it note with “KICK ME” stuck on their backs. I doubt these ‘trolls’ would say any of the abuse they proudly stamp out on the internet to these celebrities’ faces. In fact, I bet they’d be lining up for a selfie with them.
Being in the public eye gives people certain responsibilities: you have a duty to be a role model, a respected citizen, a valued member of society. Spiderman’s saying is true, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. But this applies to the owners of computers and members of social media: if you have the power to comment on other people, be responsible. We shouldn’t abuse that power.
Because, we may forget, celebrities are just famous versions of ourselves. As actress Betty White neatly put it, “Trolls suck.”
BY HOPE SUPPLE