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Naomi was a victim of an underlying issue within the internet wrestling community

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Another wrestler harassed online provides one more piece of evidence that the internet wrestling community needs to look at itself in the mirror.

WWE.com

Hate is a strong word and one I try to keep as far from my vocabulary as humanly possible. But there are times I legitimately hate the internet.

Not sure if you heard, but several awful people made Trinity Fatu’s life just a bit more miserable this past weekend. As if the woman better known as Naomi didn’t have enough on her overflowing plate to deal with, along came agitating asinine weirdos blaming her for Jimmy Uso’s recent run-in with the law. As a result, Trinity deactivated her Twitter account because we can’t have nice things, and it’s the sensible thing to do.

All fandoms can get severely out of hand on the internet, but this is a wrestling site, meaning we focus on wrestling fans. And as it stands, wrestling fandom, the IWC, or whatever classification you want to give, are more emboldened by the day due to the toxicity sometimes involved in wrestling conversations and a detachment from reality.

Wrestlers are human beings, first and foremost. It’s odd that needs repeating, but here we are. A strain of fandom sees them as objects to cheer or boo rather than as actual people. One look at the tweets or Instagram comments on any of your favorite female wrestler’s social media pages will make most normal people weep for mankind. For every Stan pledging their undying allegiance—and ready to go to war for that person if necessary—or every third or fourth guy shooting their shot, there’s a death threat. Or a sexist comment. Or racism.

It’s a digital Mos Eisley we all do our best to ignore until we can’t anymore. Trinity is just the latest victim of the wretched hive thinking it’s okay to talk tough on Twitter. Still, it’s something wrestling promotions, wrestlers, and personalities need to take seriously as social media evolves.

The common thread between the terrible person who told Trinity to kill herself and the idiot who rushed the ring at last week’s Dynamite is an air of scumbag entitlement. They genuinely believe they own the men and women in the ring because they’re paying customers. While one guy thinks he’s Don Quixote, fighting the good fight that only he can win, many others are just saying and doing things previously undoable. Social media clout is measured in negativity; that’s just the unfortunate nature of the ever-growing beast. As my boy Geno pointed out over the weekend, it’s why hate-watching is now a spectator sport in itself.

We’re a society seemingly in love with loathing and a desire to trend for giggles. While some say they’re just joking around—and they really might be—others take it too far. If they see a bunch of people “having fun” taking the piss out of a wrestler or a CEO of a wrestling promotion, they’ll join in on the reindeer games without drawing the line between fact and fiction. Whether or not those morons thought they were just joking with Trinity or not is irrelevant. Plus, it’s hard seeing the humor in telling someone to kill themselves. What’s important is that in many circles, that behavior is not only encouraged but celebrated.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “that’s great, Marcus. But what’s the solution?” To which my answer is, I have no clue.

I often wonder if any blame is on the shoulders of those of us who try to make sense of this stuff on paper to make a couple cents and a few stacks of paper. Professional wrestling coverage isn’t exactly known for its power of positivity. I can’t speak for anyone else on the internets, but Cageside does its best to keep our criticisms fair and rarely ever personal. The occasional jabs at one self-described racist notwithstanding, but hey, he earned those hits.

Kicking dirt on the latest way Lilly, a doll, torments flesh and blood humans is in no way bashing Alexis Kaufman or anyone else involved in that story. If anything, the criticisms are aimed at creative decisions rather than those charged with executing them on television. And even then, it’s a jab at the idea, not the person behind the idea. I don’t believe the rabble-rouser personalities in wrestling bear responsibility for the weird and awful things that happened last week. It’s not their fault when psychos do what they notoriously do best.

However, I do believe it’s on all of us to recognize the ills within our community. Whether you’re a big name in the business, a fan, or a smart ass who writes about wrestling twice a week, it costs us nothing to turn down the temperature every now and then and adapt to a world increasingly becoming more Escape from New York than Idiocracy by the second. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

Naomi is a character on WWE television who wants you to feel the glow. Trinity Fatu is a flesh and blood person looking for a little bit of respite in a world seemingly fresh out of any to give. The internet often encourages our worst behavior while giving no thought about the person we’re trying to score points off. A little empathy and a tad bit of maturity go a long way. So many people claim to love Ted Lasso yet fail to understand that point. Trinity, like countless other wrestlers, deserves better.

As we’re more than halfway through 2021 and after the disaster that was 2020, it wouldn’t kill any of us to just try to be better.