Ah be prepared for another large outpouring of “grief” for the death of another “celebrity” and the scions of our own media go into overdrive to praise Charlotte Dawson who committed suicide in Sydney on Saturday . I have been quietly watching this story unfold and examining the reactions from the social media . Especially interesting has been the attribution of blame to those shining lights of humanity who populate the nameless denizens of Twitter. Apparently Dawson was seriously addicted to arguing with them and subject to some rather nasty taunting and suggestions that she should kill herself. Now its probably impossible to quantify just how much this sort of online cruelty influenced that fatal appointment with a rope but given the revelations that Dawson’s whole life and career was in some sort of meltdown and her underlying depression I tend to think that such a suggestion is rather too simplistic. None the less there has been quite a few commentators to the news story suggesting (quite correctly IMHO) that easy anonymity is a great contributor to the meanness, cruelty and level of rancour shown to Dawson in her social media immersion.
At the very least there is a good argument that Twitter and all social media should be required to know who it is that is signing up for access to their service so that those who are using it as a medium for harassment or pernicious cruelty can be both traceable and accountable. Of course there will be those who will make the counter argument that ” the internet” should be free and that there is no need for any accountability beyond the disdain/disapproval of other users. From my experience this is a nonsense especially in something as ephemeral as Twitter, even more so when those who misuse social media just keep reinventing themselves if it becomes untenable to continue with one particular online identity. More and more as the boundary between our online and “In Real Life” existence become ever more blurred and merged the more we have to extend the accountability that we have in the real world to our existence online and the sooner that this is achieved the better all of our lives will be.
With respect Comrades