Kopi Talk: Are you the bully or the victim?

Ever since the dawn of the ACG community, the issues of popularity, ego, and bullying have always been close to follow. Last week, in a spark of events taking place after the largest current ACG convention in Malaysia, we’ve managed to experience some of the worst of it. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the community has learnt its lesson.

Here’s the thing: The Malaysian ACG community is chronically prone to labelling each other. In the cosplay community, for example, there is a clear divide between those who are “god tier cosplayers” and those who “aren’t good enough”, then there’s the fans of those people, who seem to sway dangerously between “socially acceptable” and downright “creepy.”

Those who are considered “good”, “talented” and “nice” reign supreme over those below them. This higher moral ground gives them the power to get away with pretty much anything. Even if they publicly shame or attack others, as long as they have a large enough following to back them up, their past transgressions will get swept under the rug.

On the flip side, once you’re considered an outcast by the community, you’ve basically committed social death. Pictures, screenshots, and memes of your mistakes will continue spreading throughout the circle forever. Doesn’t matter if you’ve changed since then, or was misrepresented in your actions, the community has rejected you already. You can bid your membership goodbye.

Image sourced from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asTti6y39xI

I don’t think that’s the way things should be, but unfortunately, this behaviour is common across the Internet. Once a person commits a wrongdoing, netizens will strike them down with the force of a thousand hammers. It’s almost slanderous the way they do this. Sometimes it begins with good intentions, like “sharing to create awareness”, but at some point it becomes laced with malicious intent.

We’ve all seen it happen. Images being circulated with the intent of making sure nobody forgets. Netizens vigilantly attacking again and again until they’re sure to erase every ounce of pride that the “criminal” has left. We’ve seen this escalate to court cases, making the victims lose their jobs, and sometimes, even suicide. Then the Internet sits back and rejoices because they’ve successfully enacted “justice”.

In the Malaysian ACG community, we seldom see cases that serious. However, this mentality has been internalised and it’s only a matter of time. I’ve already seen people comment online: “You’re sympathising with the ‘bad guy’? That means you agree with his decisions.” When in fact, those two statements aren’t related at all. You can disagree with a person’s decisions, but still want to protect their rights. Isn’t that the decent thing to do?

Image sourced from https://www.trendingus.com/2016/05/15/ways-to-stop-getting-bullied/

In my opinion, this community is dangerously used to travelling between extremes. Someone is either mostly evil/dangerous or mostly good. They don’t think that people can change over time and they don’t give second chances. They just jump onto the latest gossip train, conveniently forgetting that there are real people behind every name they slander. People who, like us, have actual lives being affected by others’ words and actions.

Maybe it’s the immaturity of the community as a whole when they say a wrongdoer “deserves” what’s coming for them. At this point, I implore you to ask yourself: Who’s the real danger here? The person who’s committed a crime that’s in the past, or the person who’s actively seeking vengeance? The one who’s yearning for the suffering of someone else, or the person who already carried it out? Quick tip: No one is the winner.

It’s so simple: Hate breeds hate. Until we all realise this fact, the community will always be trapped in this vicious, spiteful cycle. Just remember: one day, you might be standing on the top of it towering over those below, but sometime in the future, you might find yourself being the one that’s stepped on. And you’re not going to like it.

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