Bullying has never been easier with the heavy presence of social media in our modern society.
Anyone can post hate comments anytime, anywhere. When it comes to conversations on issues like climate change, there’s never a lack of hostility online.
On the attack
Ever since her activism began, Greta Thunberg has been a target for cyber-bullying.
It’s astonishing how quickly adults will rush to attack a 17-year-old child trying to make a difference in the world through social media. This group of people includes the president of the United States.
Trump has tweeted numerous times at Greta, including after she was named Time’s Person of the Year.
“It’s remarkable to see such juxtaposition and hypocrisy between the FLOTUS and the POTUS.”
Responding to a congratulatory tweet posted about her, Trump tweeted: “So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”
Ironically, Melania Trump, Donald Trump’s wife, is the creator of BE BEST, an awareness campaign focused on children’s well-being, online safety and opioid abuse.
The website for the campaign states: “Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”
It’s remarkable to see such juxtaposition and hypocrisy between the FLOTUS and the POTUS.
‘Cruel and dangerous’
Someone like Trump with a large following on social media holds so much power. Any comments they make towards someone will prompt their loyal followers to attack this person as well.
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s followers will ambush Greta online and defend anything the president tweets, fighting his battles for him like a small social media army.
That much hate targeted towards a child is cruel and dangerous. Recently, an energy service company in Alberta, X-Site Energy Services, came under fire for the distribution of a sexually explicit decal that degraded Greta.
“Our first priority should always be protecting our children.”
This disturbing and pedophilic (Greta is a minor) act is the latest addition to the abundance of harassment she has received.
It comes as no shock that Greta is a target of online bullying. She’s a girl, a child, a climate activist and openly talks about her Asperger’s syndrome, claiming that “being different is a superpower.”
It’s the perfect intersectional criteria for bigots, sexists, climate change deniers and ableists to flood all of her posts with hate. Fox News has been the source of multiple offensive and ablelist remarks towards Greta, from both a guest and a host on the show.
The hate that she faces is shocking and reprehensible. Our first priority should always be protecting our children.
‘Best available science’
Greta started her activism in 2018 by staging Friday school strikes and sitting outside the Swedish legislature. #FridaysForFuture began in August of 2018, after posts of her strike went viral.
Greta’s strikes, and the countless #FridaysForFuture strikes that have taken place all over the world, served one purpose: raise awareness of climate change and demand action from our world leaders. While awareness has most certainly been raised, and on a worldwide scale too, we haven’t seen hardly enough climate action.
Many in the media have praised Greta endlessly, and foundations have recognized her with awards and nominations (including a nomination for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize).
She declined the 2019 Nordic Council Environmental Prize, however, stating she would not accept the award and its prize money of 500,000 Swedish krona as she said that no real climate action had been taken by the Nordic countries.
In an Instagram post she wrote: “The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power [to] start to listen to the current, best available science.”
Although her fame has undoubtedly raised awareness towards climate change, realistically, Greta’s activism isn’t meant to designate her as an expert or the front of climate activism. It is meant to persuade the adults and the politicians to use their power, that children like Greta don’t have, to take action.
Instead, however, Greta bears the brunt of all the political and online backlash. Though she repeatedly makes it clear she wants people to listen to scientists, most of the attention is still drawn to her and real change is avoided.
We think we’re listening and paying attention, yet somehow, we’re still missing the point.
It’s not the children who are going to change the world, they don’t have the power. We, the adults, those of voting age and those in political positions do.
Activists across the globe have given us a clear and powerful call to action.
It is entirely our duty now to take that action.