Right now, there’s a big deal being made about online abuse. It’s not a new concept, though, and seems to only become a noteworthy issue when a celebrity complains that someone online doesn’t like them.
Now, what happened to Charlotte Dawson is awful, of course.
No-one should bag others out endlessly, insulting them to the point of hospitalisation. But the operative word there is should.
No one should set fire to things, but there are still arsonists.
No one should rob a bank, but there are still thieves.
And no one should be engaging in bullying behaviour, but there have always been, and always will be bullies. In fact, one of the oldest stories in ‘the Book’ – David and Goliath – is a story about a bully.
In all likelihood, we’ve all dealt with bullies at school, and some of us may have even been bullies.
But cyber bullying allows the same mongrels who torment us in the offline world to invade our private spaces too.
When you’re the victim of online bullying, you’re not sure what you can do to make it go away. Your online world is supposed to be a perfectly personal sanctuary, so it’s a violation of another order entirely when people enter it to harass you.
Most people who meet me realise pretty quickly that I’m all about technology: I’m 28 years old and have been using computers since I was one-and-a-half. My Dad was – and still is – a programmer and, as a result, I’ve had a pretty net-savvy upbringing, using the web and developing for it since I was 12.
Sometimes, I even think I understand computers better than I understand people.
I guess you could say I’m a geek. But when I was growing up, geek was not cool in the way that the Big Bang Theory sitcom has helped make it cool.
So I was bullied. In primary school and high school, both in Australia and America where I was educated, and later while I was studying at university.
It continues in my current life as a journalist and reviewer. I get it on Twitter, websites, forum boards, and video games with chat systems.
I’ve had hate messages. I’ve had people tell me I deserve to die, that I’m not worth the pages I’ve been printed on, and if you give me a sheet of paper, I could fill it with the expletives people have levelled against me for no other reason than that they could and thought they were right for doing so.