I had to look twice at the headline on the news the today:
‘Trolls made my life a misery’ says Nicola Brookes.
My initial reaction was to buy an old camper van, a huge flood light and some hiking gear – Troll hunting! I can see it now on some dodgy digital channel, the gravely voiced announcer introducing: ‘and tonight after Ice Road Truckers, we have our exciting new series The Troll Hunter.’ Imagine my disappointment when I sat down to listen to the BBC News segment, to find that Nicola Brookes hadn’t had an unfortunate mishap whilst camping in Norway, but had in fact just had some problems with nasty people on Facebook. To be fair what happened to her was pretty extreme (did someone not tell her about privacy settings?) – just because she commented about Frankie Cocozza, the X Factor contestant (have to be honest with you, no bloody idea who he is) – but she’s not the only person and I’m sure you’ve read of some other pretty unpleasant bulling incidents not only on Facebook and other social media, but across the internet over the last few years.
Apparently in 2011 police officers logged 12,300 alleged offences on the social networking site - and without doubt Nicola Brookes was very badly treated on Facebook - but I am concerned that we are about to enter into a new phase – especially in the UK – of panic mongering and hysteria by the right wing press and knee jerk reactions from our delightful government (Theresa May). Already over the last few weeks UK newspapers have been ramping up the hysteria levels to post 9/11 ‘anti-Islam’ levels. Headlines about ‘Paedophiles talking to your children on the web’ have been splashed across the press - which I suppose helps deflect from the disgusting phone hacking that they were all involved in (its ok, we’ll forget about that soon). I would love to know how many of these 12,300 complaints were by teenagers who had got the hump because a friend has said they’re looking a bit fat at the moment or because they haven’t been invited to a party. You have to also wonder if that means that the other 28,618,490 UK Facebook users are quite happy with the service?
I should explain just for the record that I’m not a big Facebook user myself (I have no friends). I find it incredibly boring looking at photos of Geoff and Margret’s new fitted kitchen, or cute photos of Tom and Holly’s new born baby. Users edited and sanitised posts about their lives don’t interest me in the slightest – give me some nutcase going off the rails on Twitter any time.Of course there’s always the other option if you do become a victim of internet trolling like Conservative MP Louise Mensch or Nicola Brookes. If you feel that you can’t go on using social media anymore, just delete the account and walk away. You will always have the power of the off button.