TL;DR – Don’t be that kind of shameless keyboard warrior.
Technology is a many-splendored thing. I love how social media allows me to connect with different people. I have, on many occasions, benefitted greatly from it. But the same technology also has its very dark sides. And, in many ways, social media amplifies the ugliness and wretchedness of human nature.
One of the more deplorable phenomena that has arisen with social media is the emergence of keyboard warriors.
No. Not everyone who comments about social issues are keyboard warriors.
Keyboard warriors more specifically refer to those who are self-righteous when criticising others, but hold themselves to a far lower moral standard.
Rise of the keyboard warriors
Recently, an incident in China brought hordes of these keyboard warriors out. Wu Jing, an action star whose latest movie, Wolf Warrior 2, was a box-office hit in China, donated RMB1 million (about SGD204,000) to the victims of the recent Sichuan earthquake.
Sure. That may have paled in comparison to what his movie raked in (in just 13 days of release, the movie raked in SGD692 million in ticket sales). But the amount Wu Jing donated would still go a long way in helping the victims of the earthquake. Mind you, RMB1 million is no pocket change. One would have thought that Wu Jing would be praised for his charitable act.
But no. Not only was he not praised, keyboard warriors in China criticised him instead. They demanded that he donate at least RMB100 million. They claim that if he doesn’t do so, he would be letting down all the people who bought tickets to see his movie.
Holding people to ransom
Wu Jing wasn’t the only person who was attacked by keyboard warriors. Jack Ma is another favourite target of these keyboard warriors, who often demand that he donate his wealth for various causes. The keyboard warriors go as far as threatening to boycott Taobao and AliPay if he didn’t accede to their demands.
Why should Jack Ma, or Wu Jing, or anyone for that matter, accede to those requests?
Yes. They are well to do. Yes, they have made ridiculous amounts of money. But they made their money by providing products and services that people WANT. They didn’t force anyone to buy their products or services. They didn’t force anyone to give them money. So why should they accede to other people’s demands and give away their money?
Ah. But the state also demands money from the wealthy. Why is it ok for the state to do so and not these keyboard warriors? The difference is that the state demands the wealthy pay taxes. The tax then goes into providing various services to ensure that the country functions properly, thereby providing the companies with an environment conducive for business.
In other words, taxes are very different from donations. The wealthy pay taxes and get, in return, conditions that allow them to continue to flourish.
So what the state is doing is very different from what the keyboard warriors are doing. There’s a word for these sort for what the keyboard warriors are doing. It’s called kidnapping. Holding something dear to another person and then demanding a ransom to be paid before returning that thing. It’s despicable and deplorable. And it’s worse if these keyboard warriors have not donated a single cent, or done anything to help.
We do hope that the wealthy, in addition to paying taxes, will share their wealth to make the world a better place, and so that people suffer less.
But that is entirely up to them.
Some do. Like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. That’s wonderful. But we have no right to demand that they do. Because if we do make those demands, and hold them to ransom, then isn’t it really perverse? It’s like saying “the better you do, the louder and more aggressively we are going to demand that you give more.”
To the great detriment of society
If it were you, how would you feel if people took your kindness for granted and, instead of thanking you, started to demand more and more from you? Especially if they have not gone out of their way to do anything kind or donated any money? Wouldn’t that make you feel… tired?
All these remind me of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. The story is set in a fictional world where a significant proportion of society are like the real-life keyboard warriors, and they kept making demands of the geniuses (either entrepreneurial, artistic, or scientific) without putting in effort themselves. And this part, I think, particularly comes to mind:
Mr. Rearden,” said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, “if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?”
“I… don’t know. What… could he do? What would you tell him?”
So please don’t be a keyboard warrior
So. As much was we hope that those who have more and are more abled will do good, it’s counter-productive to demand that they do so. Worse if we hold them to ransom.
What we can, and should do, is to demand more of ourselves. If we hope that others be kind, we should be kind. If we hope that others donate to a cause, we should do so ourselves. Speak with our actions, and let our actions encourage others to follow suit.
That would be much better than being a keyboard warrior.