When you think of playground behaviour, name calling, bickering, games of kiss chase and stuck in the mud are probably a few of the things that come to mind. Minus the mud, these are a few of the things that could also come to mind when you think of the modern-day internet. For women, this can pose a problem. Little girls are often told that if a boy is mean to you, it probably means he likes you. And while we are beginning to understand that this is extremely dangerous behaviour, it doesn’t seem as if it is something people are able to grow out of. Spend a day on Tinder, or any other dating app and it is easy to see that this message is still engrained into some. When faced with rejection, or when things are not going their way, a lot of men on these apps can quickly resort to name-calling or attacking women based on their appearance. Whether it is an unread message, or a polite rejection to a dick pic, something small can sometimes lead to a barrage of insults based on everything from weight to skin condition. These childish messages can often get quite personal, which can in turn have a huge effect on an individual’s self-esteem. The Instagram account (and now book!) Bye Felipe regularly posts submissions of different women’s experiences with these types of men, sadly showing that it isn’t a rare occurrence. And aside from bruising the male ego, women rarely provoke them.
Dating apps aren’t the only place where this bullying happens. Name-calling and finger pointing has seeped its way into social media, where currently women can’t seem to tweet a simple story without consequence. The twitter account @_DHOTYA (Didn’t Happen Of The Year Awards) has spiked a trend of simple, fun tweets being quoted or replied to with “didn’t happen!” sometimes paired with personal attacks. As pointed out in a recent article by Vice, the butt of this joke is usually younger women- and with the bulk of the accounts followers being males, it can be quite an intimidating experience. Paired with parodies such as ‘Fiat 500 twitter,’ it could be easy for women to begin censoring themselves, or changing how they act on social media, to avoid judgement or criticism. This place, which is supposed to be a platform to post about your life, thoughts, and feelings can quickly turn into a battlefield if you find yourselves in one of these situations. However, unlike on the playground, girls have now matured and learned lessons which can help to make the internet into a fun, positive place again. For instance (as much as we wish there had been) there was no such thing as a block button back in school, meaning ignoring upsetting things being said was a whole lot harder. But online, we do have a block button, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Your social media and apps should be just that – yours. And therefore, you should never feel bad for blocking anyone who you don’t want to see on it, or anyone that doesn’t treat you with respect or kindness. So go ahead and press the button. Something else which we can change is cliques.
While for most, cliques may have been a huge part of growing up, they’re something we can do without now. Instead of females ganging up on each other we can now choose to support each other and keep an eye out for ways that we can improve the online experience for each other.
By no means does this mean you can’t express your opinion, just remember to do it in a constructive way. Without a doubt, surrounding yourself by women who empower you rather than tearing others down will take you off of the playground and help you build the change we need.
Words: Amber Denwood
Images: Emily Langford