We may think of the internet as a safe, virtual haven full of progressive ideologies, discussions, and information. But in reality, this is far from the truth. In recent years, the internet has become a breeding ground for hate speech and hostile rhetoric; particularly anti-Semitism. It has been on a steady increase since 2015.
But the fire was felt recently when one of the most influential figures online, Elon Musk, sent out a tweet saying X-supercharged to signify support for the conspiracy theory of Jews controlling the world. While Musk’s intentions were likely to merely share his opinion – however misguided it may be – the result was to fuel the flames of existing anti-Semitic agendas and spur an ongoing problem.
Since then, several studies have revealed worrying trends of increased anti-Semitism in the online and offline realm. For example, a report by Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitic attacks had quadrupled in the United States between 2015 and 2019. This “x-supercharging” of anti-Semitic rhetoric has been echoed worldwide and is even more dangerous as it can be tougher to attribute incidences to certain users due to the anonymity of the internet.
There is no doubt that the current level of hostility is deeply concerning and, as such, something must be done to combat it. We must learn to be better at holding people with power accountable for the online impact they have. We must become savvy users of the internet and understand our online safety. We must become the generation that takes a stand against hate and prejudice. We must realize that the internet should facilitate discourse, not harassment.
We must recognize, too, that governments, schools, and community leaders have an enormous role to play in addressing anti-Semitism and ending an online atmosphere that encourages it. To that end, it is crucial the wider public the understands the nuances of anti-Semitism and directive impact it has had on society today. This can only be achieved with the shared responsibility of all age groups and those connected to the internet.
In sum, the’ X-supercharged’ anti-Semitism has reached an alarming climax, but it does not have to be this way. We must realize that whether online or off, all of us must be active in pushing back on hate-speech and defending freedom of speech and expression. It is of paramount importance that we are one step ahead of the game to ensure an online environment that is tolerant and respectful of all.