When "Good People" treat others Horribly (but don't notice or care)
I've noticed that when strangers on the internet think/assume I'm gay, the vitriol in their comments goes way up. Here's why.
I’ve noticed something about mean people on the internet.
As you may know, when it comes to my work online I’m accustomed to my fair share of critics and naysayers, crybabies and muckrakers. And it’s fine, I’ve talked about that before, whatever.
But here’s what I’ve noticed lately: when strangers on the internet assume or think that I’m gay, the vitriol in their comments increases like ten fold.
Whereas most people disagree or pushback with some level of decency or civility, if the person on the other end thinks that I’m gay, they throw decency right out the window. They’ll use words and phrases and attacks that leave me speechless (oh, and yes, in case you were wondering, almost all these people claim to be Christian. So, that’s fun).
I remember writing about this phenomenon in my first book. It’s called, “infrahumanization.” A big word that basically means, if someone thinks another person is subhuman in any way, then they can treat that person like a monster and yet not have their own conscience be impacted.
In other words, our brains, when we think we’re dealing with a monster—someone not-quite-human—it permits us to uncharacteristically treat them horribly all while maintaining the belief of, “but I’m a good person who treats people well.”
And this is what our queer siblings have been telling us for centuries. Most of the vile that comes their way comes not from obvious “bad people,” but from self-professed good people who think that being queer makes a person subhuman, which then gives their conscience a blank check to cash all the disgusting and cruel comments they want… and they don’t even feel bad about it.