After several weeks offline, I opened my social media accounts and was delighted to see students supporting poets, campaigners respecting our LGBT community and reviewers graciously accepting that not all books are going to be their cup of tea.
Oh wait. That’s not at all what I saw.
If you haven’t had a chance as yet, I’d highly recommend watching Cyberhate With Tara Moss on ABC iview.
“It is often said that the internet is not real life. But that isn’t true. Things said online are sent by real people and received by real people.” Tara Moss
Tara Moss’ compelling, intelligent and timely documentary series (which is still available on ABC iview) unpacks the psychological, emotional and physical effects that people on the receiving end of online abuse experience.
Spoiler alert: abusing someone, either online or in person, isn’t ‘constructive criticism’ nor is it ‘freedom of speech’. It is assault.
Online abuse (or abuse of any kind) goes far beyond my own meagre blog on storytelling however, as participating in social media goes hand in hand with a career in writing these days, I have to say, I’m shocked at how many authors have war stories of angry readers who felt the need to lash out.
I listened with horror during the Sydney Writer’s Festival as one YA author described the need to keep a record for the police just ‘in case the online threats escalate.’ Sadly, from the examples she read out, it seems that some of these folk genuinely seemed to think they were offering ‘constructive criticism’.
Goodness knows I’ve passionately disliked many books I’ve read over the years. However, I can’t recall contacting the author with a blow by blow account of how much I hated their work, why they should leave the writing to <<insert author of note>> or worse.
There’s simply nothing to appreciate or applaud in callous put downs, personal attacks or bullying behaviour.
If you have been the subject of abuse, or just need to discuss any feelings this blog has raised, the following organisations may be able to assist:
- eSafety Commissioner website:
- Health Direct
- Beyond Blue
Stay safe and be kind.