For me, the internet has been brilliant. Social media has opened so many doors for me, we have all of the information in the world at our very fingertips and we can connect with people from all around the world who we may not have crossed paths with otherwise. However, especially over the past few years, social media and the internet has shown a darker side, a side that all regular social media users will have encountered whether directly or indirectly and this dark side is becoming ever more present as time goes on. Of course, I'm talking about internet trolls.
This jacket is one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. You may remember it from my blog post with Pretty Little Thing and Virgin Trains a couple of weeks back and this was a post that I was immensely proud of. The photos in the post that Karl took of me were my favourite photos in a long time and that's such a big deal for me because normally I tear myself apart in my blog photos. I loved my outfit, loved how I looked and overall, I couldn't wait to share them on my social channels. However, after sharing what I would have called a "grunge" outfit on Twitter I was well and truly attacked by trolls. A young woman decided my outfit wasn't grunge enough and proceeded to attack me and my appearance over a series of tweets and when I responded, she shared my tweet on her own page which has a 90% following of just trolls, encouraging them to troll me. I'm not easily offended and have been trolled before but let me tell you when you're sitting alone in a hotel room with your notifications filling up from people telling you that you look "fucking horrendous", an "absolute state", a "load of shit" to name a few choice insults, it's not nice.
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Usually when I think of trolls, I think of the faceless accounts with eggs or memes as their profile pictures because they know that it's wrong to behave like that but over the past few months, I've realised this isn't always the case anymore. The trolls sending me these tweets were real accounts with selfies, friends, children, grown men and women who thought it was acceptable behaviour to bully and abuse people online. They laughed with their friends about it and quite frankly I think this evolution is terrifying. When people confronted them they said if we can't take criticism we should "get off social media", failing to realise that criticism and outright bullying are not the same. These people actively encouraged the anonymous troll accounts that were saying such terrible things to and about people I can't even bear to think about it. The one who started trolling me in the first place took pride in people blocking her because she had been so horrible to them. They were sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic and everything else you can think of and to think that they don't see anything wrong with what they're doing is just unfathomable. Or do they see something wrong with what they're doing? Do they do it because they themselves are unhappy? I don't know which one would be preferable.
Whatever their reasons, these people need to be stopped. I've reported accounts like this multiple times and Twitter has never ever responded. They've never been suspended, they've never had tweets deleted and social media bosses are quite frankly giving us the impression that they don't give a shit about the people using their sites for abusive behaviour. Instagram is more bothered about female nipples than abusive behaviour and that just says it all. That means it's left to us to deal with these horrible accounts and it's not okay. Luckily, I have thick skin and after feeling a bit miffed for a while, I'm okay but that's not the case for everyone and whether it's online or not, bullying and harassment to this extent can have lasting effects.
I've argued with trolls, I've insulted them back, I've been sarcastic in return and I've called them out. Nothing works and responding to them in any shape or form simply fuels them. They take pride in knowing they've upset you and I've found that ignoring them and blocking them is the best policy as they soon get bored and will leave you alone. However we shouldn't have to do this as it means we still have to read the horrific things said to us. Social media bosses need to do more. Of course, everyone endorses the right to freedom of speech but what about our rights not to be harassed or bullied? The troll culture is growing and we even have people made famous from it, such as Katie Hopkins (yes, she is a troll). They say it for the reaction and if we stop giving them that reaction, we can hopefully get rid of them for good.
What do you think about internet trolls? Have you ever been targeted?