Death Threats?

Now, here’s something very perplexing to me.

I’ve returned to regularly using Tumblr and a topic that occasionally comes up is Cartoon Network’s reboot of The Powerpuff Girls. My feelings on it can be summed up in two words: it sucks. I’m not going to go into why, however, because this post isn’t intended to be about that.

Someone asked a blogger I follow if it’s okay they like the reboot because they received a death threat from someone who doesn’t like it. The blogger assured them it certainly was okay and went on to say they’d also received death threats for not liking the reboot.

That is something wildly strange to me. It’s one thing to have disagreements and even arguments, but threatening someone? I understand losing your temper – heaven knows my head is hotter than a boiling kettle – but at my worst, I’ve never threatened somebody. Let’s not forget this is a cartoon! No one’s life or well-being is at stake. It’s not a necessity. It’s something purely meant for entertainment. I’ve heard of the “stop having fun” crowd, but sending death threats crosses a huge, red line.

To me, it just begs the question: Why do some people take cartoons and other things meant only for entertainment so seriously? Why does saying “I like this” or “I don’t like this”, or praising or criticizing something occasionally seem to be equal to setting off a bomb? I’ve never encountered such people in my personal life and, frankly, I’m afraid to. I’m not suggesting I think they’re truly dangerously people, but I imagine they’re people who are hard to have fun with or speak to if you don’t agree with their way of thinking.

Maybe it’s only a blind moment of rage, but death threats are so common on Tumblr, it’s hard to believe everyone who does has only done it once. Even if that was the case, it’s still strange someone would fly into rage because someone else liked something they didn’t or vice versa. If someone goes on to insult people who feel differently, the anger is understandable, although it still wouldn’t justify death threats. Merely liking or disliking something? Overreaction.

My best guess is it’s the anonymity of the internet. You can be anyone and anything online and unless you eventually reveal yourself, no one will ever know you’re lying or be able to call you out. To my knowledge, death threats are illegal, but chances are you won’t be able to trace an anonymous message far back enough to find the person and have them charged. It probably wouldn’t be worth it anyway. Knowing that, the people who send death threats over such trivial matters probably feel safe and, thus, have no regard for the intended recipient of their message.

It doesn’t help Tumblr’s staff does a horrendous job of moderating the site. Hate and vitriol are part of any of social network, sadly, but Tumblr’s is beyond anything I’ve ever encountered on any other website. This is a website with a shoplifting fandom, for crying out, and it’s completely acceptable to be bigoted and hateful for no reason besides looking for a target. I can only assume the website is so out of control, moderation is almost useless. I’ve read the site wasn’t always that way and didn’t start going downhill until 2011, but I wouldn’t know since I joined the site in 2012. I guess I missed its prime time.

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