We’re reeling this morning following news that after eight hours of unrelenting abuse on Twitter last night, TV host Charlotte Dawson has been hospitalised.
Charlotte is a much loved and respected member of Mamamia’s extended family and to say we are devastated by this news doesn’t come close to how we feel.
This all came about because of trolls; those people who sit on the Internet and – often anonymously – send abusive, hate-filled messages to people they don’t know.
Charlotte has long been a target of trolls. The star herself has said that the fact she does Botox and is a single, childless woman over 40 has long made her a target of misogynistic vitriol. That in itself is beyond horrific and pathetic.
Being an ambassador for the anti-bullying program Community Brave, Charlotte holds the firm belief that these trolls should be brought out in the public eye and held accountable to the awful things they say.
She takes a stand against the online bullying by retweeting abusive tweets to shame those that have sent them. Now setting aside whether or not this is the best way to deal with internet trolls (is there a good way to deal with unmitigated vitriol?), what happened to Charlotte this week was truly horrific.
When one Twitter user urged Charlotte to “please go hang yourself” this week, Dawson’s followers immediately sprung to her support – including one whose fiance had committed suicide. The troll responded with the tweet: “If I was your fiance, I’d hang myself too.”
Charlotte tracked down the twitter user, and contacted her over the phone, and then reported the incident to her employer – Melbourne’s Monash University. The user has now been suspended from her university mentoring job. Charlotte also appeared on A Current Affair last night to speak about the incident. You can see that here.
What happened next was a tsunami of abuse of pure hate that no person, no matter how strong, could ever be expected to take. The fact that a “#diecharlotte” hashtag appeared on Twitter is a testament to the twisted minds of trolls.
After experiencing 7 hours of these kind of comments, Charlotte simply tweeted: “Hope this ends the misery…” and “You win.”
At its best, social media is a tool for information sharing. A way to connect directly with those in the public eye we admire. At its worst it is the weapon of choice for bullies. A cowardly way for us to mock, taunt, shame and bully people online. A way in which we can launch a stinging, personal attack where there are no consequences we have to witness or face up to.
As Charlotte said herself, we can go online and call someone an ‘ugly whore’ and go back to doing the ironing.
When did this become okay?
Well Charlotte, we are all here holding your hand. Holding you up.
You are a compassionate, smart, beautiful woman.
Take a look at this beautiful interview that Mia did with Charlotte Dawson last year, in which she is intelligent, funny and refreshingly honest:
It goes without saying that comments on this post need to remain respectful – otherwise they will be deleted immediately.