Trolling tidal wave hits Charlotte Dawson
As we ate dinner last night, media personality Charlotte Dawson graced our screens, and she was addressing a topic far more sinister then her usual fashion and gossip: social media bullying.
Appearing determined, confident and unapologetic, Dawson presented herself in the interview as a victim turned bullying advocate. She’d had enough.
Less than 10 hours her segment ended, Dawson lay in an emergency ward.
Following the show, among the well-wishes, Dawson received hundreds of tweets from the internet ‘Trolls’ she had called out; as she described, they were vicious.
Although undeterred by Dawson’s promise to ‘out’ them, almost all where cyber ‘Eggheads’- blank avatars with no information, pictures or followers.
Hundreds of accounts were created solely for the purpose of abusing Dawson; in her typical tongue-in-cheek style, “xx great sentiments x” she replied to one troll.
Retweeting the ‘best of the best’ threats and insults, Dawson attempted to flush them out, with many of her fans coming to her side and confronting the trolls themselves.
I was glued to this saga for a multitude of reasons. I couldn’t comprehend the nature of trolling: assaulting someone you’d never met behind the cyber shield of anonymity?
Did we not address our concerns to others, so that change would come about?
Trolling on Twitter is the online version of throwing a brick through a window: senseless, destructive and above all, ineffective.
When the trolls called repeatedly for Dawson to hang herself, did they think she’d sit back and mull “I should reconsider my stance on this – thank God for feedback!”.
What ever happened to writing pointed letters? Researching and hitting back on a forum? Calling talk-back radio (note: if you’re batshit crazy, you will not go to air).
Since when was 140 characters enough to debate topics as dense as racism?
Another point of concern was that being a journalist and possibly one day in the public eye – would I have to accept cyber-bullying as a ‘side-effect’ of my job? Or would I simple scale down or neutralise all my views to safe-guard myself?
Dawson, after hours of tweeting, gave up the fight. A picture of her holding a handful of pills (which was later removed) confirmed she was at breaking point.
Laying in hospital is not the price of free speech in Australia and ironically, this was the same freedom Dawson’s detractors blamed her for jeopardising..
Come along to my Social Media Workshop on September 21 – Sydney CBD/ Surry Hills. Organised in conjunction with Ark Group Australia.
Register here: http://www.arkgroupaustralia.com.au/Events-E027SMProf.htm