This is, sadly, all too common, the inability to see people online who disagree with us as real, living people. We see it when we bully people we don’t agree with, or we use derogatory terms to describe someone we don’t really know anything about, or when we tell people to harm themselves.
Social platforms can really dehumanize the targets of online abuse. For instance, I once met someone who had bullied me online, and she told me to my face that she hadn’t ever considered that I was actually a real, living, breathing human being. Her actions were, she said, all about venting her own sadness and aiming it, sort of ethereally, at me. I can almost understand that sometimes, when someone is in pain themselves, they are not able to comprehend the level of hurt they are causing others. But that doesn’t excuse their behavior, it merely explains where change needs to happen.
It’s true. We think it’s the media, or Russia, or the social networks who are causing all this nastiness and harassment, when in fact it’s just us exposing our own hurt to the world instead of dealing with it.