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The court of public opinion never misses anyone — especially Taylor Swift. Anyone who isn’t living under a rock for the past decade knows that her reputation is the most disorienting thing to have ever exist with the exception of nonsensical and dangerous challenges like eating Tide Pods or munching rocks for clout.

The pop superstar has been reduced to a lightning rod of online hate since her pivotal rise in 2009. She’s become the subject of slut-shaming, body shaming, and every other Twitter hate thread the Internet can spare, convincing the world why no one should get on board the Taylor train. At this point, it’s become a prerequisite to throw everything she’s ever touched out of our lives if we want to be taken seriously — which is truthfully so messed up.

#thirsty for take-down culture

It’s not hard to configure why it’s hard for people to like Taylor. Here’s a backgrounder: She’s had the standing of someone who plays the victim all the time (mostly because of her discography), she’s had seemingly childish beef with other prominent artists in the trade, and she’s known to be silent on all political matters until recently.

As the equally divisive icon Michael Jackson stated, “The bigger the star, the bigger the target.” When Taylor started scaling her empire with her Grammy-winning sophomore album Fearless, she’s put herself in the limelight for both good and bad contexts. It came to a point that the worst is overshadowing the traction she was getting, and she became the poster child for everything wrong in the music industry.

Not a lot of people find themselves identifying with her, which remains to be the general consensus years after one of her biggest issues (see: KimYe-Taylor feud).

Be that as it may, how have we gotten here?

It’s become so easy for us to “cancel” anyone we deem to be “trash” inside stan Internet ethos. Many celebrities have fallen victim to this kind of mentality, but not even Justin Bieber (who is the beacon of hate speech early on) gets as criticized and attacked as Taylor does for the consistent duration of 10 years. Is it because of misogyny? Her race? Her apolitical stance beforehand?

Whatever the case is, online hate spreads easily and does irreparable damage, but no one cares because we get to pile on the next “scalding tea” with the reaction memes we’ve saved on our phones.

We trash real people every day, but at least we get to start a hashtag party that will get us engagements and interactions. We’re all suckers for validation and we found a sadistic way to get it. What a burning legacy.

Fragile social justice

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but we’re hypocrites at one point or another. We fight for equal representation and rights, body positivity, and good things that lift us as a society, but all that is lost on stars or points of interest we tend to rip apart.

As trite as it may sound, Taylor is a reflection of our rotten refinement. We’ve churned out an incredible amount of hate that she doesn’t seem like a person anymore. She’s either too sweet or too conniving in our eyes — and there is no winning for her. Not until we set our trifling thoughts aside that we don’t talk about people like her like they’re neighbors who need to get their lives straighten out for our satisfaction.

Taylor Swift is flawed, so are we. It’s not easy to align ourselves with people who don’t even know we exist, but isn’t life a little better if we stop fanning the flames of pettiness? In the words of this feature’s muse, why you gotta be so mean?

Illustration by Madel Crudo

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