Want to know what a troll is? Just hop onto Twitter. A lot of swearing happens in some quarters of Twitter. Fuck loads. I would not be so bold as to generalise, but you know generally know where to find it. If you don’t like sweary timelines, explosive rants and general cussedness, you have the option to unfollow or block Twitter trolls and in extreme cases report or make a complaint.
Mary Beard has taken online abuse and turned it into a whole new art form: ‘forgive-ship’ (my merging of the words friendship and forgiveness). She has seen beyond the idiocy of her abuser and decided to help him, realising that his casual brutishness will cost him dear in his future. Unless you’re capable of tasking Google to remove search terms that refer to you, your online misdemeanours are permanent. There for everyone (employers, partners, family etc.) to see – forever.
Mary has shown her self to be a mature and intelligent women, free of bitterness and able to turn a spiteful word into incredibly positive publicity for her and her career. She’s a professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and no doubt has read enough classical literature to understand that the actions of man rarely operate in a vacuum, there is always a choice of responses depending on the character of the key players. Retribution or revenge make for great dramas but she has opted for the more divine attributes of compassion and greater good. This elevates her in my mind to a near heroine status.
Here’s how her story was reported in the Guardian:
And here’s a bit more about Mary:
At the other end of the Twittersphere, you can experience exquisite displays of support and love of your fellow man. I experienced this recently when someone in my TL tweeted that her only son had recently died. The response from followers, some of whom were known to her but many that weren’t, was dazzlingly touching.
It’s not usual to see these extremes online, as people behave well and badly in the ‘real world’ too. But in this technological era, messages are delivered in real time into your inbox, often on a mobile device. We know sticks and bricks can physically hurt you, but never underestimate the magical power of words to score lines on another’s heart or in their head.
© Suzy Rigg
Writing every word