Breastfeeding column brings trolls

Feb 10 • Becky Hilker, Opinion • 3611

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I am not sure if those of you who are reading our columns realize this or not, but we are all students, learning and still growing into the world of journalism. Our editors work very hard every week to produce an issue and every week we bravely write columns about controversial issues to spark a meaningful conversation.
Let me highlight the most important point of my last sentence, just one more time: a meaningful conversation. Recently, our news editor wrote a column about breastfeeding in public, which is a controversial topic that has taken over social media and feminists far and wide have jumped on the movement.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion – I actually encourage it – but, there is a line that just shouldn’t be crossed when entering a dialogue about an issue. The moment someone starts to change the subject and begins to bully someone for their opinion, that’s when the meaningful conversation that I highlighted a few times above, starts to disappear.
Changes aren’t going to happen in our society if conversations aren’t had, but what holds our society back from moving forward on important issues is the lack of respect people hold for one another’s opinion. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what they have said, but you should respect the fact they had enough courage to give their opinion in the first place.
The majority of the columns we write each week are not necessarily backed by facts – hence the category these columns fall under – opinion. The columns are our thoughts and feelings about issues that we feel are important enough to share.
But scrolling down the page where her column was posted online three weeks ago, I noticed a large amount of comments – which we usually never receive. People were adding their two cents in on the subject – and that is fine – but they were mostly repeating each other and not really making any valid arguments that were different from previously stated comments.
What shocked me the most, however, was the amount of alumni who commented on her column. It wasn’t constructive criticism or really any positive dialogue about the subject; they were instead bullying her and saying very rude things.
I don’t want to repeat what they said, because, well, I am not a child and I can express my opinions and thoughts without name calling and using hateful language about a 20-year-old woman, but it just surprised me that these Gannon alumni were trolling on her article.
We had a rebuttal editorial last week about her column, and it explained the guest writer’s opinion in a mature and constructive manner; which is exactly what we want out of our columns. I am not trying to hold people back from saying how they feel – that is not the point of this column.
But people were saying hateful things and our editors do not deserve to be treated like that – no one does. It was her opinion, and her view on the subject of breastfeeding and as my mom taught me when I was just a kid, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

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