(file pix) Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won two gold medals at the SEA Games recently. She was criticised for her ‘revealing outfit’ instead of being congratulated. Pix by Hasriyasyah Sabudin

Keyboard warriors, trolls are a bane to society with their online verbal attacks

HERE we go again. Another Malaysian does us proud but some people choose to focus on irrelevant matters.

Recently, following the release of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination results, a student of Kolej Tunku Kurshiah in Negri Sembilan was interviewed by news portals. Natasha Qisty Mohd Ridzuan had obtained an impressive 9A+s — something that is rarely heard of.

One would assume that the comments and feedback from the public would be nothing short of “Wow!”. Instead, the video of the interview went viral because Netizens chose to highlight other matters. These issues concerned her looks and language.

Natasha was criticised for her “too thick” make-up and her failure in “covering her hair properly” (despite wearing a headscarf during the interview). Many pointed out her non-Malaysian sounding English accent when speaking in Malay. They accused her of forgetting her roots and pretending to be someone else by being “fake” through make-up and speaking in a non-local accent.

The abusive comments were met with Natasha’s angry supporters who slammed the critics. They gave her encouragement, telling her to ignore her critics and to focus on her journey towards success.

Let’s rewind a little, shall we?

Remember when gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi won two gold medals at the SEA Games recently? She was criticised for her “revealing outfit” instead of being congratulated. Remember when Kedah footballer Faiz Subri did Malaysia proud by winning the prestigious Fifa Puskas Award recently? He was criticised for his “appalling English”.

I feel that we have a serious problem here, and we need to talk about it. Perhaps, it’s a lack of self-esteem — seeing the accomplishments of others make us feel small and insignificant. So, we believe that by putting them down, we would all be on par.

Perhaps, it’s self-distraction. Stress and constant worry cause long-term pressure, so we divert our attention to trivial issues instead.

Perhaps, it’s jealousy. We envy them as we aren’t able to reach their heights. So, we opt to bring them down.

It is an extremely disturbing pattern. I’ve tried many times to dig deep and attempt to understand the logic behind this, but alas, I doubt that I’ll ever know why.

I can only conclude that it is due to our lack of maturity not just as individuals, but as a society. We pride ourselves as being a country reaching the “developed nation” status, but I see no development when it comes to being a part of a civilised and cultured society. We boast about how we have a high literacy rate of 94.6 per cent, but somehow we end up behaving like uneducated buffoons with cringe-worth comments and nasty judgments.

Why do we keep taking one step forward and three steps back with our ignorance and childish actions? This is especially prevalent online, where these people are commonly referred to as “keyboard warriors” and/or “trolls” who take immense pleasure in insulting and verbally abusing anyone who tickles their fancy. Where are we really going with this?

We are not five anymore to be green-eyed about our kindergarten buddy who has a nicer looking lunchbox than us. We are not 12 anymore to be bitter about our friend who got the first place in class without even studying. We are not 16 anymore to be full of anger with our teacher who gave us too much homework.

We are adults who focus on world issues and discuss matters in a mature manner. We are adults who know how to clap when someone else wins an award and we strive harder to learn something from winners. We are adults who are able to be happy for the achievements of others around us.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see that happening. I honestly am wondering if the day would ever come that I would finally see it.

Ashley Greig is a lecturer at Sunway College, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scottish / Japanese / Indian lineage. She believes in a tomorrow where there is no racism and hatred

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