Unless you are one of those anti-Facebook people, you would have seen a barrage of Look Back videos shared by some of your friends on your Facebook feed. You might even have shared your own. Created to celebrate the social network’s 10th anniversary, the feature compiles some of the user’s most-Liked photos, statuses and other activity into a minute-long video that will most definitely tug at your heartstrings.
At least, for those of you with a heart.
According to Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, almost 200 million people have viewed the Look Back videos. Never mind that it is said to be a marketing gimmick often used by marketers to rebuild loyalty for declining brands; you can’t deny that it works to inspire nostalgia – embarrassing or not. But unsurprisingly, for every Like the feature has garnered, there is at least one hater who will spew venom about it on the Internet and encourage others to join in the verbal slamming. Such haters are also what you and I know as Internet trolls.
Within hours of the launch of the Look Back feature, I saw blatant, viciously-worded statuses aimed at those who shared their videos. The statuses read something like these:
“Friends, please stop sharing those stupid Look Back videos. Nobody will watch it except you.”
“Word of advice: Nobody gives a shit about your history.”
“URGH! What’s with all these Look Back videos filling up my feed? Share INTERESTING items, people.”
Those who commented on these statuses agreed, adding their unsolicited take on the videos, further stirring the pot of hate.
Even the associate editor of technology of technology at Huffington Post has got something nasty to say about the feature: “If you’re a close friend, odds are I shared a good deal of that history with you. In that case: I don’t want to see it. I was there. I don’t even want to watch my Facebook Look Back video. Why should I have to see yours?”
Erm, how about scrolling down the page and ignoring the videos that have apparently caused you so much grief? It’s not as if you were being forced to watch them, anyway. To this day, I’ve never seen any one of those videos, nor have I created my own. I don’t have anything against the feature; I’m simply not interested in it. Unfortunately, Internet trolls are anywhere. Even though, by definition, trolls leverage anonymity to deliberately provoke readers into a response, there are others who don’t shy away from their real identities – like those who display their trolling behaviour on user-centric sites like Facebook.
It’s almost like Mean Girls, except worse. Last year, a UK study found that bullying is now more prevalent online than offline, and Facebook is the worst social network for Internet trolling. Interestingly, a recent study by a group of Canadian researchers found that Internet trolls are likely to show signs of the very diabolical-sounding “Dark Tetrad of personality”. It essentially comprises three character flaws: Sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (a tendency to manipulate others). “It was sadism, however, that had the most robust associations with trolling of any of the personality measures,” read the article. “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground.”
This is definitely food for thought for those of us who find a perverse joy in making jokes or downright hurtful comments at the expense of others. Haters gonna hate but, really, why stoop so low and engage in such mean behaviour? Before this whole Look Back drama, it was Bitstrips. Before Bitstrips, it was Candy Crush. Just because we don’t share another’s pleasure in these features and games doesn’t give us the right to put him or her down.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.
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