This week Sam Frost spoke out about the worrying tweet she had sent regarding internet/social media trolls and my heart broke a bit. I watched the season of the Bachelor she was on. Not because I really like the Bachelor but because that dude comes from Perth and I’m from Perth and we like to be nosey about what other Perth people do when they get on the telly. It is a known phenomenon that since Ash and Amanda won the first My Restaurant Rules that reality TV producers only pick villains, annoying or bogan people from Perth to feature on reality TV (it’s not actually a known phenomenon, I made that up but it sure does feel like that sometimes, Chloe and Kelly anyone?) so it’s always interesting to see who made it to the show and what they are like. I liked Sam on the show and I was, like a lot of people, a little outraged that she was treated like she was. I think her success since then is a testament to the kind person she really is, warm, funny and hardworking. What she talks about in the interview is not ok. Fake profiles to troll not only her but her family as well? Really? Who has time for that? I barely remember the passwords to the accounts I actually use let alone to make fake profiles for the sole purpose of being a shitful human on the internet. I feel like some people who walk among us forget that there are real people at the other end of the celebrity accounts who have real feelings.
Saying that people like Sam need to expect this because they are in the public eye is such a cop out. I wish that I had screen capped this for posterity but I actually saw someone comment on a facebook post that “it doesn’t matter what I say online, it’s not like it’s real life and I’ll say whatever I want”. Umm it does matter. With the increasing amounts of time we spend on the internet and social media as a communication tool it is real life. Nasty words hurt. They have a cumulative effect and it takes five positive interactions to cancel out a negative one. One only has to look to the comments section of pretty much any post news.com.au posts on their facebook page to see how much people believe that they can say whatever they want on the internet without repercussion. And it makes me really sad when it’s just out and out nasty stuff, like someone can’t have a differing opinion to you without being told you should die or some such insult. Trolling such as Sam has endured is next level.
There has been a slow tide turning but only if the person under attack is willing and able to take it further. Recent cases like the guy who got fired from his job for calling Clementine Ford a slut and the guy who was charged for making racist comments on Nova Peris’ facebook page. But cases such as these are rare and there are plenty out there who don’t agree with the way these were handled, in particular the Clementine Ford situation. I am on the fence, I feel like people need to be held accountable for what they say and do on the internet but how far is too far and where is the line? There is no easy answer because the line is different for everyone. I feel everyone has the right to feel safe which really means we should really all be a bit nicer to each other and remember that people in the public eye are people too and not everyone can just shake it off.
Now I have been guilty of getting into arguments on the internet and contributing to the noise but that’s an area of my life I am working to change. Over the last few months I’ve really started to change the way I engage online and I’ve devised a set of guidelines to help me not be a dick on the internet.
- Scroll on – there are somethings you see, like reposts of David Avocado Wolfe and that one facebook friend who hates breastfeeding and halal anything, that just are not worth your time engaging with. Scroll on and don’t even let it sink in.
- Block/Report – if you see something really nasty – report it. Social media community policies are flawed, we all know they are but you have to report the bad shit. If your getting hassled or you really don’t want to engage with someone hit them with the block hammer and give them no more of your time.
- Type it out and then delete – I save this for people giving bad nutritional advice, medical advice when the person asking for advice should clearly go see a doctor or for someone who’s opinion really rubs me up the wrong way (code for makes me see red). There is energy here that needs to be expended. Typing out a response expends that in the direction it’s intended for, deleting it lets it out into the universe and saves you the headache of having an argument on the internet with someone who just can’t agree to disagree.
- Internet/social media break – everyone needs this and I don’t feel it needs explanation.
I hope the people that have been trolling Sam so hard stop and that she continues to reach out to her support network and talk about what’s going on. I’m going to be working on making my corner of the internet a nicer place to be.
If anyone is experiencing bullying and needs help or any kind of mental illness and needs help the services that Beyond Blue offer are available to everyone.