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Young Learn to hate From the Young

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I'd like to introduce you to a world you may or may not be familiar with. It is known as Gaia (gaiaonline.com).
It was originally created for individuals enthusiastic about anime, art, and video games. More topics of interest have since been added, such as shopping, literature and travel and upgrades have been made. Users can create their own avatars and have an extensive amount of items available to them. There are over 100,000 users and when I joined the site in 2004, I was truly content with it. But, over the years, I watched the site grow into something hateful. No one seems to be doing anything about it, but I'm tired of just sitting still.

Quite recently, it has become a fad on the site to purposely insult other teens for various, inexcusable reasons. As if teens aren't teased enough to school, they are met with the same taunting online. Some are called ugly, some fat and others get called worse. Many of the users that get "pic dropped," as it's called, look perfectly fine and are merely being targeted to boost the author's popularity. There have been many complaints from upset users, but it seems their contradicting responses to the online bullying lead to them becoming targets as well. Many threaten suicide or have developed dangerous habits as a result. I believe many aren't serious, but I encountered a girl who I fear has an eating disorder in response to excessively being called fat on Gaia. Her exact words were "I don't fit the weight standards of Gaiaonline."
Since when do people get taunted ONLINE for their weight? If it's wrong to do in real life, face to face, what makes it okay on the internet, hiding behind a computer screen? Just because someone can't see you or physically react, doesn't mean they aren't offended or hurt. As if I wasn't disgusted enough, it turned into a waterfall of racist topics.

On one occasion, I was almost brought to tears when I saw a post with a picture of a monkey. This would ordinarily be a funny spectacle, but beneath the monkey, in big red letters was the word "N*****."
While on Gaiaonline, I've been called a "silly little n*****" in by people who I know would never be able to say it to my face. I've seen morphed images of a gorillas head on a black model's body followed by "All black models are FUGLY." Some users make jokes about "catching wild n******" and others take it a step further with "negros should go to hell." Every time I return to Gaia, I feel like I'm going further and further back in time. All black people on the site are generalized to be "ghetto" and loud even though there is know way of knowing or proving either. You think I would stop going but, I wonder how these kids act in real life. Are those their deep, dark feeling manifesting on the internet because they simply can not make it known in their day to day lives? Are they saying these things because it's what they feel or are they merely following the hateful trend? When I make it clear to other users that I'm hurt by their so called "jokes" I'm told things like "it's the internet, what do you expect?" and "don't take it personally." Unfortunately, I find it very hard not to take it personally when a user tells me "well, I'm sure you're a non-n***** black person. I just don't like the n***** black people." Years ago, I could easily turn to a moderator and always for much lighter offenses. But lately, it fells like the moderators are no where to be found and hurtful forums are flaring up in response.

Despite how I've made it sound, it isn't just African Americans taking all the heat. There have been anti-Asian forums, made to make fun of Asian culinary culture, among other "things." There are threads against white people recognizing their European roots and others against the Hispanic community. You name it, there is a hate thread about it. I've even seen some forums against being a non-American. If the site is being promoted as an international site, why is nothing being done about the hate messages sent to users who are unable to use perfect English? It seems like nothing is being done about anything EXCEPT cutting down on the sharing of pornography.

The gay/bisexual community has gone through a lot as well. They are met with derogatory terms, accused of sexual deviance and kicked out of groups in the Gaiaonline community. What bothers me the most is that this site is approved to be for kids the age of 13 and up. Why are 13 year old kids subjected to obvious prejudice without any type of intervention? Why are the young being taught to hate from the YOUNG? Not only are they learning to hate, they're learning to wh***. I see young users offering nude pictures or lingerie photos of themselves in exchange for Gaia gold and/or items. I understand freedom of speech and all that comes into play, but if forums get taken down for offensive language (aka cursing), why can't it go down for language that offends? Where are the administrators? where are the moderators? Why are they letting this internet bullying continue? They claim to be keeping the site safe for everyone and project this pitch mainly to concerned parents. But, I feel my internet safety being threatened everyday. This one website makes me fearful that one day I will enter a forum and be met with "get out you n*****. get out you f*****. get out you foreigner."





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

April Showers said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 10:21 pm
@Draconic

Consider that because you don't know who is behind the other screen, it could be your neighbor insulting you for all you know.
The main point of the article seems to be internet bullying and how out of hand it is getting. Gaia isn't the only site, it's just the one where she was personally insulted.

Just because it's the GD doesn't make it excusable. You're pretty mush a prime example of "the problem".
 
April Showers said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 6:33 pm
http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/general-discussion/teen-ink-vs-gd/t.51226211_1/

This is what Gaia had to say
 
Draconic said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm
Haha! You're talking about the GD and/or the CB, silly! I know PLENTY of nice people over in B/C pets. It's the GD, what do you expect? Why are you so hurt over this anyway? It's just some random person you don't know, they ain't gonna make a difference in your life unless you let them make that difference.

((BTW, I'm starbolt22 on Gaia. Shoot me a PM! ;3)
 
Lynn said...
Jun. 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm
I have been a member of Gaia for a few years now, going through a few different accounts. I see this type of thing mostly in the General Discussion forum, where it is perfectly fine to call people horrible things, and then if you say you don't like what they're saying, you're a "p***y" or you can "GTFO." I'm 19 years old, and I'd say I have pretty good confidence in myself, but if I WERE stil 13 and exposed to all that, I'm not sure how I would handle it. GAIA, WHERE ARE YOUR M... (more »)
 
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