Dealing in the social media: the tone exhausts

Many are afraid of being discredited because of mistakes. Yet it is precisely those who share common goals who should approach each other constructively.

When did it become okay to be an asshole under the guise of "criticism"? Photo: getty

I’m a woman who puts discrimination at the center of her work, is active on social media, and is strong about not discriminating against anyone while being self-reflective – in other words, the perfect condition to be outcalled or even caned by people who stand for similar things as I do. As soon as you gain some "notoriety" on social media with topics with which you want to make this society a little better, especially women have to reckon with being shitstormed.

That’s why I comment on virtually nothing on Twitter and post mainly irrelevant things myself. Nevertheless, every day I receive information from strangers that they think I’m shit, nor are they mainly people whose values I don’t share anyway, I can cope with that. Being discredited by people who resemble you, who also fight against discrimination, is the big fear – too often I’ve observed that in others.

I thought it was because of Twitter for a long time, and have taken refuge on Instagram since August. I have made my private profile public and since a week ago have started die_chefredaktion, a journalistic Instagram channel for young people that claims to be diverse. The editorial team is not standing and is not yet two weeks old and already it has to justify why the name is not counter-gendered (want to expropriate the term "editor-in-chief" and recast), why no subtitles (working on it, is not so easy for Insta-Stories).

The established are happy

Even if the criticism is justified – it is exhausted in the tone in which it is formulated: "You don’t seem to give a damn about equal rights, very hypocritical". My colleagues who are not yet established are increasingly expressing their fear of being canceled, even though they are almost pedantic about doing everything right.

In some large newsrooms, older established colleagues who are not nearly as sensitive to these important issues are laughing up their sleeves that everyone who tries to do better still can’t please anyone – they feel vindicated to leave everything as it is.

This is not meant to be a free pass to post discriminatory garbage and then complain about being canceled when criticism is warranted (two critical comments is not canceling by the way). I also don’t mean a Lisa Eckhart canceling that leads to more books sold. I mean the pillorying of young women, known mainly on social media, who are trying to make the world a little better and who may once overlook something, unintentionally exclude someone, and who, if you wrote it to them factually, would see that.

But when did it become okay to be an asshole under the guise of "criticism"?