Most recently the bulls eye has been placed on TV personality Charlotte Dawson and it has lead to dire circumstances, being hospitalised after a bitter barrage of the foulest tweets imaginable were directed her way.
It begs the question then: when did social media morph into anti-social media? And is the notion of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” simply a casualty of the digital age in which we live, given it’s so easy to hide behind the anonymity of a Twitter Handle or pseudonym?
The sudden onslaught of wrath with Ms Dawson has been swift, harsh and unyielding. While I am not a regular viewer of her TV shows, it does not stop me from thinking people have been unnecessarily cruel. Sadly, she has not been alone in suffering these online personal tirades.
Remember when The Voice was gracing the airwaves and it was Delta Goodrem who was been at the hands of many online hammerings? Can anyone pinpoint exactly what it was that displeases the twitterverse so much about this once darling of our TV screens?
The same can be said for the likes of Lara Bingle when her show aired. While I wouldn’t call myself a fan per se, I do feel sorry for her that she has to endure deeply personal attacks, just because she lives her life in the spotlight and has made some mistakes along this bumpy road we call life. But hands up who has lead an idyllic, stress free existence and been 100% successful at everything they’ve turned their hand to?
I figured as much.
The viciousness can at times make me treat my Twitter account as if its poison ivy – I get to the point where I can no longer bear to witness to such consistently disparaging commentary. I realise these people are merely exercising their right of freedom of speech and I am exercising my right to flip the switch to off but that doesn’t make it any less malicious.
Of course, this sort of online ire is not just limited to Twitter. Internet forums, news and gossip sites and blogs also bear the brunt of often foul, harsh and unjust criticisms. What is most unsettling though is when the banter begins to fester into truly unsavoury, personal territory.
It completely sickens me to think someone can justify telling someone to end their life, as with Charlotte Dawson. And I'm even just amazed me that people will go to the effort to leave a nasty comment, seemingly just for the thrill of it. By all means, add your opinion if it is valid, not merely because you have some sort of unnatural loathing for a particular person.
Yes, I understand analysis is par for the course when you are in the public eye, but really, if we are but armchair experts, who have no knowledge what it is like to lead Charlotte Dawson's (or Delta, or Lara's!) life, do we have the entitlement to attack or preach? Ask yourself how you would feel if you were constantly picked apart at the hands of online vultures week in and week out? Hopefully channelling some empathy might make you stop for a second before you send that next nasty tweet out into cyber space.
I am not pretending to be Pollyanna here; there will always be a pack of metaphorical pitch fork toting peeps online, waiting to pounce on their next intended victim. And of course we all have a right to speak out if something said or done has deeply offended you (much like what I am doing now). But for the love of all things harmonious, and to maintain a semblance of integrity (online or in real life), let’s all extend some diplomacy please.