About Hana and Social Media Bullying

Many of you have mixed opinions on reality television that evolved from the Newlyweds or Survivor days. Some believe it’s a waste of time, others think it’s a good learning tool on societal behaviors. Terrace House was our family’s gateway drug to reality television. Up until now, it was a gentler, more “self-aware” reality content that focused on personal growth and the cultural “rules” not being said but caught on film. This was in stark contrast to its Western counterparts that wanted constant drama. Even last month the New Yorker was fawning over Terrace House as a coronavirus lifesaver.

To quote the subreddit, it’s become a “nightmare within a nightmare.” Hana Kimura from the latest season of Terrace House suddenly passed away. From her last moments on Twitter/Instagram, it was self-inflicted. Less than a year ago, Melis and I watched Vivi trolling Hana by pretending she only knew English, and Hana’s reactions were peak-Hana. Energetic, smiling, and looking for love. What does one deeply know about oneself at 22?

Terrace House on Netflix during a happier time.

Hana was a multi-generational wrestling talent that decided to stay in Japan unlike her other stablemates who chose to go to bigger markets like the United States. Despite numerous fans, Hana was continually harassed with toxic DMs by “nearly 100 frank opinions every day” since she stepped into the Terrace House spotlight. From what is probably the last episode this season, Hana shared during the pandemic she lost sponsors and merchandise revenue from live wrestling matches and was being paid “minimum income.” The combination of the daily social media bullying and losing her livelihood must’ve been overwhelming.

Which brings me to my grievances with social media. Melis’ work on @melotones gave me a close look at how social media affected our daily happiness. It’s amazing the different languages we saw of hate in the comments, even if it was the minority. There’s always more positivity than the hate, but we all remember the hate, not the love. The bad stuff is what sticks at you. To quote Ryo:

“I knew that hate comments would come when I entered the Terrace House. There are people who told me to suck it up because that’s the outcome of being famous. But is it really true? I am getting hate comments here and there every single day but I try to not care. But there are people who cannot do that. Every single Terrace House members see the comments and suffer from that, and everybody should understand that. I just don’t understand how can people do that to someone that they’ve never met before. Do you think you are a perfect human being? Do you know that people are putting their best effort to live their life? You don’t know the past that we’ve been through. Even now at this moment I still see hate comments. Just stop and have your life.”

It’s easy to blame the social media platforms themselves instead of digging deep into society as a whole. In the end, who is responsible for Hana’s death? The producers who allowed Hana to join Terrace House? The members? The panelists? The internet bullies themselves, surely…! The snake keeps eating its tail and the buck stops nowhere and everywhere. Cue the unstoppable rise of the next wave of TikTokers, YouTubers, and new social norms post-COVID-19. Daily hate is the new “I made it” status.

Terrace House will never be the same and I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix quietly drops the show. Tokui couldn’t come back in time to be the voice of reason and defend Terrace House members when the panelists went too hard on the commentary.

Rest in peace, Hana. You were one of the reasons we got into Terrace House, it’s a terrible shock to realize we were watching the last months of your life. You deserved the love you were seeking, and may peace follow your family.