Collective demise—that’s how crabby we Filipinos can get sometimes. It’s the “if I can’t have it, then neither can you” mentality, and the unhealthy desire to drag someone down with you. Why do crabs in a bucket insist on pulling down their own in order to foil any attempts at escape?
Whether we like it or not, the downside of social media and online connectivity these days is that anyone anywhere can be a critique—and an unforgiving one at that. Seeing other people’s accomplishments online unfortunately sparks hatred and envy in some Filipinos, and that’s when our crab mentality kicks in. Here are just some of the reasons social media has birthed the harshest of online critiques, and what you can do to handle them.
Why are there so many crabs in social media?
- Keyboard courage.
As the Social Networking Capital of the world, the Philippines is home to the most active social media users online. We post everything from personal feelings to mundane meals for all the world to see, and sometimes, not all comments are particularly pleasant to receive. Whenever something goes awry, people are keen to bombard others with negative feedback—even going to the point of ostracizing and social bullying—because it’s as easy as one, two, and three. Just a few taps on the keyboard and our comments are sent—no scary confrontations required.
Hiding behind the computer screen gives people the courage to post cruel things because they act like the monitor is a shield. They have the license to say pretty much whatever they want to say, especially things they can’t do so to someone’s face. Gossiping born from envy and jealousy is easily one of the most common negative comments that can be seen online, and with the presence of online trolls who fan the flame and feed the beast, all the hate and negativity can spiral out of control.
- Lack of face-to-face confrontation.
People sometimes forget that there is another face at the other end of the screen. While most Filipinos think they can get away with mean comments online, they tend to neglect how this kind of feedback can be seriously damaging to an actual human being on the receiving end. Social media then becomes a den of inauthentic, thoughtless, tactless, and insensitive emotions expressed merely through “ROFL”s and “TTYL”s. Communication skills are diminished, and ironically, connecting people is what social media actually claims to do.
- The dawn of the distorted self-image.
When we post pictures of our highs and not our lows, we project a perfect little life. Good news is good news, but some of these actually contribute to the negative self-esteem of our viewers, and when that happens, self-images become skewed. These nega vibes cultivate more spiteful feelings within those who feel bad about themselves, and when they reach their breaking point, the claws and the pincers come out—it’s time to pull someone down from the bucket.
How can you handle all the online crab mentality?
- Be the bigger person.
It’s easier said than done, but when you receive negative feedback or a hurtful comment online, you have to be the bigger person and rise above it. Because it’s easy to post a confrontational comment against someone online, it’s just as easy to ignore an upsetting remark because of the absence of a face. While it may be extremely difficult to change a whole nation’s unfavorable behavior online, you can choose to change your own attitude and how your respond to them.
- Remember that every person has his or her own flaws.
No one is perfect. Why should you criticize another human being for the same flaws that you yourself have? Hiding behind a screen changes nothing—every negative comment you post can and will hurt another person. So instead of focusing on someone else’s weaknesses, why not channel all of your energies into something productive instead? Offer positive suggestions or recommend possible courses of action that others can take. Concentrate on improvements instead of dragging others down. This way, you can help others improve on their flaws, and they, in turn, just might be able to help you with yours, too.
- Try not to take any sides.
Keeping a cool head and taking heated emotions out of the equation can contribute to a better and more productive discussion. Instead, focus on the data and the facts at hand. It’s never a good idea to jump into conclusions, especially when you have no idea about a person’s background or where he or she is coming from. Take each comment with a grain of salt. Be fair, factual, and neutral.
- Think before you act.
If someone posts a cruel remark against you online, do you let your anger get the best of you and immediately bare your fangs? Instead of getting dragged into an unnecessary quarrel, take a step back and reexamine the situation. Research previous tweets or posts. Keep your eye out for any possible misunderstanding. Google is your friend—use it. Even take the conversation offline if you have to. The important thing is that you don’t succumb to the temptation of dragging him down just like he is dragging you down. Otherwise, you’ll both end up at the bottom with no way up.
- After thinking, act.
When all else fails, block. Is all of this negativity really worth your time and effort? Don’t you have better things to do than troll around the Internet? Disconnect. Step out. Grab a book or take a walk in the park. Spend time with your actual physical friends and family. Life is so much more than likes and comments, and the sooner we Filipinos realize that, the easier it will be for all of us to climb out of that proverbial bucket. After all, crabs are delicious, but nobody wants to be compared to a talangka, right?