Weathering social media

This blogger only discovered Charlotte Dawson whilst addicted to the Celebrity Apprentice. That show, thanks to the quality of the celebrity contestants chosen, wasn’t total excrement like the large proportion of reality television content can be. So it was shocking to hear on commercial talk back radio last night that the always self-deprecating Charlotte succumbed to the constant barrage of negativity that is sometimes part of the internet. Both a published author and documentary-maker, Dawson has not endured the easiest of lives and her openness has been refreshing.

Dave Penberthy, editor-in-chief of The Punch explains:

The fact that Charlotte Dawson has been hospitalised after sustaining a particularly putrid and distressing wave of online abuse should force a serious discussion about our air-headed enthusiasm for social media…

Those of us in the journalistic mainstream should also think harder about our attitude towards social media and online commentary. The scourge of the anonymous commenter has almost destroyed the concept of civil disagreement. At the website where I work we spend half our lives deleting comments or encouraging people to use their real names, but the tone still often makes you despair. It is the same across cyberspace.

Social media commentator Laurel Papworth has formulated some strategies on her blog based on this episode that may be helpful to keep in mind. For example, Laurel suggests:

It’s never OK to trash someone because they trashed someone else. But human nature is as human nature does. And if you are mean and bitchy, you’ll gather mean and bitchy people around you. Don a flak jacket and get on with it, or change. That simple.

Please be aware that some may consider Laurel’s advice controversial. Indeed, some of Laurel’s blog commentators suggest she is blaming the victim. It’s a sensitive issue.

Everyone reading this knows that the internet is inherently difficult to manage. Indeed, sometimes it feels like this ‘fake’ (inherently anti-social) network is a curse! When this anxiety or discomfort arises, ideally that is when one should take a break from the addictive pursuits of the internet. This blogger recommends asking the question: ‘Will anyone miss your absence for a week or two?’ Of course not.

When highly experienced bloggers cannot manage their blog properly, it is clear that developing a balance between censorship and allowing others to voice their opinion is impossible! It is interesting to also read the views of author John Birmingham. Superficially, blogging seems relatively safe compared to Twitter and Facebook. To be fair, this blogger is not qualified to comment on the latter platforms because they have never been utilized! Ignorance is bliss ain’t it?

Photos by Eva Rinaldi.

Feeling suicidal? Dangerously depressed? Please don’t ignore it. For urgent assistance please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service, SANE Australia, or beyondblue. Services providing assistance to young people include Kids Helpline,, and headspace.

5 Responses to Weathering social media

  1. Anon says:

    Quote by a defiant Dawson in the Sunday Mail today, 2/9/2012..” if you’re going to express these points of view (i.e. Twitter taunts and threats ) you should do it with a face and a name so you can be accountable.”

  2. anonymous says:

    Sadly, social media brings out the worst in some people!

  3. Billy Bob says:

    I’m weaning myself off social media, gradually. Have given up the personal Facebook account (I manage a community page though). Twitter is handy for real time news events but mostly a waste of time. As for Pinterest- pure chick crap!

    Disclosure: Original message edited by administrator. Reason for edit: removed private correspondence.

  4. fmdxing says:

    Watch the discussion of ‘online trolls’ on Media Watch which aired on channel two (ABC1) this week.

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