Few things have illustrated the power of the negative echo chamber more succinctly than the events of the past few days.
While the world has been fixated on the athletic prowess of the best athletes in the world, some have been focusing on all the wrong things: aesthetics.
After Gabby Douglas’ historic win, while most people were celebrating her triumphant win, a vocal minority took the opportunity to take jabs at her hair.
Although their tweets and Facebook posts questioning her styling choices were an annoyance, most went unnoticed until media outlets like Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Essence, and CLUTCH (yes, we are to blame as well), blew the story up. Soon, folks were addressing Gabby’s haters on every social media networks although they’d probably never even seen the offending tweets in the first place.
But what began as an annoying Internet meme, quickly spread to TV. Soon, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson was commenting on the criticism surrounding Gabby Douglas’ hair on MSNBC, and the teen was asked about it while she enjoyed her Olympic experience in London.
In case that wasn’t enough, the hub-bub over Serena Williams’ celebratory “C-walk” after she won a gold medal is also making the rounds on social media, and unfortunately on TV. Both of these instances, as well as several in the past, made me wonder, if sometimes, we are our own worst enemies.
With the never-ending news cycle, media outlets such as this often feel pressured to jump on popular news stories, even ones that start in ridiculous places. And sadly, readers continue to share them, often times faster than they share (or comment) on positive stories.
But things start with us—the media—and I’m beginning to feel that in our efforts to cover stories before our competitors (because, let’s face it, the only way online media outlets make money is through page views), we turn certain news stories into bigger issues than they actually are.
While most news stories are valid and should be covered, things such as Gabby’s hair and Serena’s dance, do little more than rile people up and create controversy where there is none.