It’s kind of funny how the Internet was once considered a great “equalizer,” as it has ironically progressed to create the infamous “digital divide” and technology gap that many societies struggle to close. Senft and Noble reference in Race and Social Media that although society associates racial stereotyping with a negative connotation and fears being labeled as “racist,” our communities are ultimately uninterested in abandoning racial groups because it’s our social reality. Not only is this true in public environments and social settings, but it is also found true online. Racial stereotyping, segregation and targeting are found even more abundantly online. Although part of the intention of the Internet was created to close the gap between cultures with different socioeconomic statuses, it has evidently created a larger gap between racial groups because of its anonymity. Some may consider this a form of empowerment – the act of providing people with technology to spread ideas – however, not all online activity promotes well-being and positive racial interaction.
A newly categorized term of racist commenting and promotion online has been dubbed “anti-social media” for its obvious reasons to detract from normative online conversations and interactions and instead create unnecessary messages and hype about race and profiling. This article by DiversityInc concludes that over 10,000 racist and derogatory tweets are posted per day, with 30% of them being directed towards a specific individual or a group. As social media platforms have grown, so has room for new perspectives and opinions on the appropriate usage of these various media. Who are we to limit the free speech of an individual online? However, what does it say about us if we don’t do anything? This sticky situation is one that many online users find themselves in on a daily basis. According to the concept of interpellation, individuals categorize themselves based upon others’ reactions to their specific racial group. Although this is more of a subconscious thought, how is that fair or equal to assume the stereotype others have put on you? For me, the best thing I would suggest is to stay out of it, but for you brave hearts, maybe you can take the chance and make a change to let people decide for themselves which group they want to belong to, aside from others’ beliefs for once.