Somewhere along the way we lost the art of being nice.
Maybe it was swallowed up in the seismic waves of the technological revolution, or crushed under the weight of the Great Recession.
I’m talking generally, of course. Not everybody is as mean as we see on television and social media, but it sure is getting a little disturbing. Political correctness has its faults, but do we really have to go this far?
Things have gotten so bad — in politics and other aspects of society — that I’m tempted to dub this century “The Era of Hate.”
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Earlier this week, that term came to mind as I read articles about Gabby Douglas, the amazing American gymnast and Olympic gold medalist who has become the target of vile and hurtful words on social media.
During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Gabby won gold medals in both the team and individual all-around competitions. She was the first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion. She also was the first American gymnast to win gold in both the gymnastic individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympic games.
Gabby returned to the Olympics this year as part of the “Final Five,” which dominated the international competition. She won gold in the team competition, and did well in the qualifying meet, finishing third behind teammates Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
Sounds like a lot to celebrate, right?
Well, that might have been true when people were praised for their accomplishments. But in this new era, it’s all about tearing a person down.
The cyber attacks against Gabby began in 2012 when some women began criticizing her hair on social media. It didn’t matter that she was competing against the best gymnasts in the world, and breaking a good sweat doing it. Critics complained that her “edges” weren’t laid to perfection.
This year, the negative hair comments surfaced again on social media, and it only got worse from there.
Gabby was chided for not placing her hand over her heart during the national anthem and not cheering on her teammates. The hashtag “crabbygabby” was created and spread all over the Internet.
Gabby’s critics, I’m sure, are people who never had the guts to attempt what she achieved. They’re most likely haters hiding behind a computer as they hurl their hateful words. But bullying is a brutal sport that can kill a person’s spirit, and it should never be tolerated.
Thankfully, there are a few people who have come to Gabby’s defense.
Comedian Leslie Jones, of “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters” fame, created the hashtag #LOVE4GABBYUSA, tweeting it to more than 500,000 people. And Areva Martin, a Los Angeles attorney and talk show host, wrote a moving article titled, “Gabby Douglas Is Our Daughter, Sister and Friend: Let’s Show Her Some Respect!!” Martin even offered her legal services to combat the bullies. Hopefully, that will help fix the problem.
In the meantime, please, let’s show Gabby some love.