So, I’m watching a programme Richard Bacon has done, called Anti-Social Network on BBC3, and it’s making me feel physically sick. It’s about internet trolling taken to the extreme of cyber bullying.
In one particular case, a boy called Tom Mulaney, got into a fight in school, and got horrible comments on his Facebook about it. He then hung himself behind his garden shed. So, then, his brother set up a page on Facebook in Tom’s memory, as a tribute page for his friends and family. Which, as Richard Bacon says, at first, was a comfort to Tom’s family. But then people started commenting things like “I guess he just wanted to hang by himself” and “Hey Tom how’s it hanging?” - and even things like “I gave him bum sex” - which is all bad enough, but what made me REALLY sick - was, the trolls had taken the photos of Tom his brother had put on Facebook, and edited them, putting a noose round his neck and red splodges on his eyes and mouth, which I’m assuming was supposed to represent blood.
Richard Bacon himself has a troll hater on Twitter, Facebook and on Tumblr too… and he spoke to “the UK’s leading expert on internet trolling” - and she said they want attention, and they live most of their lives online, and getting nastier and nastier actually makes them feel good.
And I think, what the fuck?
They don’t realize the consequences of how these things can make people feel. Richard Bacon seems to be taking it quite well, although admits that it does bother him. Because he wants to know, why, why he’s doing this, why the obsession, what he gets out of it etc. Having been a victim of anonymous online abuse myself, I can relate to this. I mean… I handled it pretty well, and I didn’t lose any sleep over it, and it didn’t upset me as such, but it did bug me. Because, I thought to myself, this is obviously a person who knows me, rather than an online troll - and the likelyhood is, that it’s even someone on my Facebook friends list. So it buggs me that they hid behind an anonymous face, even when they came and apologized, which, to me, renders their apology null and void (haha I’ve just realized they’re probably reading this right now :P)… So wondering who it was, I will admit, is still in my mind somewhere to this day… and it bothered me for the same reasons as Richard Bacon said… I wanted to know why they had done it, what had provoked them, what was so provocative about someone saying I’m pretty, how they could possibly think that what they were saying was true, what kind of sick, twisted kick were they actually getting out of it? Did the anonymity heighten their trill, or diminish it? But most of all, was how it could have effected me. I mean, I’m a strong person, and it’s going to take more than an ignorant, spineless coward to bring me down… but it could have really devostated me. Do people actually realize the effects their cruelty have on people? I mean, the trolling I recieved was extremely lighthearted compared to some of the hassle some people get… people much younger and not as mature as myself…
Richard Bacon is now delving into people who troll RIP Tribute sites… One perpetrator said that it made him laugh and people who took it seriously were too sensitive. He got eighteen weeks in prison, and is still trolling tribute sites. It’s just, totally disgusting.
But what also gets me is people who cyber bully people who are still alive… young teenagers. So many kids get depressed and start self harming because of online trolling. You may say it’s a stupid reason to harm yourself, but, you’re not in the mind of these people who are recieving these horrible messages, I mean, they effect everybody differently. So many kids have even killed themselves because of it. And because it’s not in a classroom, nothing can really be done to monitor it, let alone stop it. I mean, okay, you can’t stop school yard bullying… but at least the bullies get punished more often than not. But on the internet, you can hide behind a grey anonymous face, or even somebody else’s name.
I just don’t understand what drives these people to be so cruel and callous, and I can’t comprehend how they can possibly not know what sort of effect they are having on people. Why take your thrills in bringing somebody else down?
I realize I’m just rambling now, but seeing this programme has really effected me. And thanks for your attention if you’re still reading this… I appreciate it.
Richard Bacon has met with one of the people who was trolling on Tom Mulaney’s RIP tribute site… who said it all started when he was drunk on a Susan Boyle page and was trolling on there and editing photos, and his aim was to make people laugh. Richard has now confronted him with the Tom Mulaney incident specifically, and he’s claimed that his account got cloned, and he said it was probably someone else he’s trolled in the past - getting revenge - and he just can’t seem to get his story straight really. So he admits that he had a site under a pseudonym, and that he had been trolling, but he denies trolling Tom Mulaney’s RIP site. After the interveiw, he then emailed Richard Bacon saying he had posted trolling messages on RIP pages, but not on Tom Mulaney’s. In the emails - he said “some of the reactions I got were hilarious” and then went on claiming to be remorseful. I just, can’t believe that. He really doesn’t understand how this effects an already distraught group of people, family and friends, who are already grieving - it just makes things worse.
I mean, this is bad. This is awful, and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen, but how on earth can we stop this?! And there should be a way to punish these people, but how?! We can’t Police Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, MySpace, etc… There are way too many users, things get deleted, it’s very difficult to gather evidence agaisnt these people and aside from all that, it kind of violates our human rights.
I bet the people who “invented” the internet had no idea that this would happen.
The general advice for victims of cyber bullying seems to be, not to retalliate, not to react - because that’s what the trolls want, and that just gives them fuel. I would be inclined to back that advice up. If it does upset you - don’t bottle it up - talk to someone. You don’t have to report it and get the trolls into trouble if you’re worried about what might happen to you if they get into trouble, just talk to a friend about how it’s made you feel, and I guarentee you’ll feel better. Block them, disable comments, make your profile private, there are a lot of things you can do.