On The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week, they had Robinson Cano, a Yankee’s player who left to play for Seattle (supposedly for more money), go out on the streets of New York City (the segment can be found here). They had a cardboard picture of him for people to boo at and the test was: how people would react when Cano came out from behind the picture and introduced himself to the people who were booing him.
In all of the cases, each person booed the picture and then, when Cano came out, the people were embarrassed, humbled, and super friendly to Cano. They all shook hands and wished him luck in his upcoming season.
Now, I don’t know much about baseball, but this proved to me what I’ve long thought about how people treat images of others. I am talking, primarily, about nasty political/ religious/ any debate on Facebook or other forms of social media.
People can be so horrible when they’re not talking to actual people.
It’s happened numerous times on my Facebook wall. I’ll post an article on a controversial topic and someone, usually someone who I both haven’t seen in awhile and will probably not see in the near future, will write a snarky, mean comment that’s definitely personal. The more physical distance I have from the person, the more free they feel to say whatever they want. Now, in person, that same person would never speak that way to me! They’d be polite and friendly, even when I bring up that controversial topic in a conversation. But for whatever reason, when behind the screen, they feel completely free to be nasty.
Moral of the story: there’s always a person behind the image of the person. The person doesn’t stop being a person just because they’re behind a screen. A person doesn’t stop being a person even when they’re in front of the screen, typing something nasty. Don’t let the screen dehumanize you!