Julie Burchill: The Joy of Online Hatred

Julie Burchill writes:

After a few hours of being told that the Police were about to Knock on my Door (Krazy Kapitals are Katching) and drag Me away for Hate Crimes Galore, I lost patience and phoned the rozzers myself, always keen to meet Trouble halfway. After I’d given them my name and contact details, the charming lady asked me for a brief summary of the online bitch-fight. When I came to the bit about the Hells Angels and Hitler Being Right, there was a sharp intake of breath from Hate Crimes.

‘Let me stop you there, Julie, because this is starting to sound like you should be the one filing a complaint.’

‘I won’t, thank you, as I’m not a cry-baby. But can I file one if this person really has done and I get arrested?’

‘Of course you can! It’s never too late to report a hate crime.’

I went back to the fray refreshed and soon had Michelle the Dame deleting posts left, right and centre: Hitler and the Hells Angels would have to try another day.

This woman doesn’t approve, except she does:

Burchill’s column points to something we should pay attention to. It is the question of security: of what makes us strong enough to deal with the hate, to resist the need to constantly find validation online. It seems to me that if we focus solely on the cyber-bullies, we miss something rather important: that what happens on social media may be more of a symptom than a source of the problem.

Cyber-bullying, after all, isn’t a simple phenomenon. Last week, it was revealed that many teenagers are self-trolling – sending abusive messages to their own accounts.

Research in the United States found that out of 600 students, 9% had posted toxic remarks about themselves. When, last year, Hannah Smith, 14, hanged herself after messages were posted on Ask FM telling her to “go die”, “get cancer” and “drink bleach”, at first cyber-bullies were blamed. But later her father revealed that detectives believed she had been sending the messages to herself.


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