One of the detriments of the Internet is the option for anonymity, which becomes a cloak for loud-mouthed cowards to hide behind while flinging disgusting rhetoric and imagery at unwitting victims. This week it was Zelda Williams – daughter of Robin Williams, who died unexpectedly and tragically at the beginning of this week.
Zelda embraced the Internet for its good side, posting a lovely statement to her Tumblr page, which clearly indicated that there were already trolls throwing shade (or that she expected there to be – having previously addressed some other incidents back in June, which you can see a few posts down).
She didn’t have to do it, but I think with those who seem to “belong” to the world, as one could argue Robin Williams did, there’s an understanding by those close to them that the world expects… something. A word. A glimpse at their pain. Closure? So she took the time to address that expectation.
And the majority of people, whether rabid or fair-weather fans, appreciated what it must have taken to put herself out there – and as eloquently as she did – in a moment of such overwhelming sorrow. But those people were not enough to balance against the vile monsters sending her Photoshopped images of her father’s dead body, and the like, on Twitter.
Zelda asked her followers to also report the offenders, whom she named, and at least three Twitter accounts were shut down for abuse. Good for Twitter for responding so quickly and not allowing these losers to continue their attacks. But, of course, the damage had already been done. Zelda Williams is taking a break from social media, and who can blame her?
Social media is a wonderful tool when used properly. When not? Well, there will probably always be those who seek to behave like jackholes, hiding behind a clever (or not-so) user name. But believe this: as technology advances, there will be more efficient ways to not only shut these low-lifes down, but reveal them.
Wouldn’t it be nice to think of their potential employers seeing what crap they spew in their free time? Social sabotage is a bitch, kids.
Until then, we need to take whatever lessons we can from these situations (mental illness and depression may finally be taken seriously), and above all else, we simply MUST be kinder to one another.