It’s been a big week for radio, television and podcast personality Meshel Laurie, who on Tuesday night, reminded us all why we love her so much.
For those who missed it, Laurie was sent two vitriolic Facebook messages over the weekend. They were sent by people she’d never met or spoken to before and attacked various aspects of her career, as well as her physical appearance.
Wanting to show that the messages had not hurt her, Laurie spoke about the incident on her breakfast radio show and shared screenshots of the messages (and the usernames of the authors) with her 20,000 followers.
But in doing so, Laurie has now said that she made a mistake.
Comedian Meshel wants to make people laugh, not cry. Source: Facebook.
In the just two days that passed, has learned that the authors were harassed in return, and on her behalf. It's something she says that she's not okay with and certainly doesn't condone.
Taking to Facebook once more on Tuesday, Laurie said, "I've deleted the posts in which I publicly shamed two men who sent me abusive messages over the weekend because I've been informed that one of them is "in a bad way" as a result of the backlash. I can't say I feel sorry for him, but I'm hoping to speak to him personally later today."
The trolling incident was discussed on Tuesday night's episode of The Project. Source: The Project.
Then later again in the day, Laurie told followers that she had spoken directly to one man and heard from the daughters of another. There were apologies from both abusers, she said.
"It's a strange space we've created for ourselves isn't it? This lawless place called social media that we try to tame with public shaming. Inevitably we make outlaws of some pretty marginalised and lonely people," Laurie wrote.
"I launched an attack against strangers who attacked me. I did it to prove I wasn't disempowered by their abuse, but in so doing, wielded power over them. They were abused by thousands of strangers, they were scorned by friends and family, which was my hope when I made their messages public. Having achieved my aim though, and having had the opportunity to hear how successful I'd been in causing these men humiliation and scorn, I'm just left feeling like I missed the point."
Meshel's statement, as shown on The Project. Source: The Project.
"No doubt many of you think they 'deserved' everything they got," Laurie continued, before going on, "I totally felt that way at the start, but as the balance of power swung my way, which lets face it, wasn't far for it to swing, I felt more and more like the bully. If I'd only done what my Buddhist training has taught me, and searched inside myself for resolution, I'd have come to the obvious conclusion, happy people with great lives don't fat shame strangers on social media. Sad, lonely, isolated people do."
Laurie, a devout practicing buddhist then ended on a powerful statement that brought home just how wrong we can get it when lashing out on social media.
Meshel Laurie talks about her comedy squad and closest friends. Post continues...
"Whenever I encounter sad, lonely, isolated people in any other context I do my best to show them kindness. It's what I should've done in this instance and what I will endeavour to do from now on. I'm disappointed in myself, but tomorrow's another day."
While discussing the issue, The Project panelist Peter Helliar said that his method of managing trolls is to mute them, which means they are unaware of the action taken, but acknowledged that the experience is rarer for him than others. "For some reason a lot of this stuff seems to be aimed at women," Helliar said saldy.
Pete says he mutes, whereas Fifi is a blocker. Source: The Project.
Fifi Box admitted to blocking her trolls, and Waleed Aly, who is not on social media, says he just deals with it by a good old filing system. There's a folder called "nutbags" and another called "racist hate mail", which Aly says, "is mostly what it is."
It's estimated that 50% of all Australian women will experience online harassment and abuse in their lives. And with that horrific statistic looming, it's worth all of us taking a leaf out of Laurie's book. Both those thinking about sending such types of messages, and those who will inevitably receive them.