Gone are the days when the word troll was nothing more than a moniker for those under-the-bridge dwelling creatures in childhood fairytale. Now the appellation has transcended the fictional world into the sphere of social networking, terrorising celebrity and civilian alike with all the venomous power 140 characters can wield.
Trolling has been hitting the headlines of late, from sad individuals mocking the deaths of teenagers to more high profile attacks on public figures like Louise Mensch MP, Miranda Hart and of course, the most recent case concerning Olympic diver Tom Daley, whose late father was used as a form of attack in a malicious tweet sent by a juvenile and foulmouthed delinquent.
By merely retweeting @Rileyy_69's comment, Tom Daley served this particular troll up to endure the wrath of his followers, the national press and rolling news channels. Some would say the retaliatory attacks by the young Olympian's followers is just desserts for the young tweeter, but I'm not alone in finding it somewhat uncomfortable to witness the gang-like approach adopted by Daley's 'defenders'.
In response to my tweet regarding the foul language used by @Rileyy_69, (not just in his subsequent tweets against his haters but in comments made before Daley-gate) James Ball, Data Journalist for the Guardian replied, "Have you looked at the tweets he's *getting*? People are sending him death threats. For sending death threats."
"Also posting his mobile, etc. Bit of a nasty mob mentality going on. Playground stuff hitting the front pages."
How can it be justifiable to take this old-testament style response? Who knew the archaic "eye for an eye" mantra could be substituted for "a tweet for a tweet"? Well I say it can't and it mustn't or we risk sinking to the troll level from the precious moral high ground.
We should definitely not be adopting @Rileyy_69's methods in response to his own tweets.
Just by attacking him, @Rileyy_69 has seen his Twitter following increase exponentially, leading him to become (albeit briefly) a worldwide trending topic. Subsequently we have created a greater platform for the young man to impart his abusive commentary.
So if we are to apply Biblical rhetoric to our dealings with cyber-bullies like this challenged individual, let us do it new testament style by turning the other cheek.
Because as we continue to put ourselves out there by sharing our every action, thought and opinion on the ever-expanding stage of social media we need to accept that with the good comes the bad and the damn right ugly.
Essentially, it is our choice whether we let these trolls affect us or not.
I choose not.
More:Twitter London Olympics 2012 Acceptance & Inclusion Social Networking 2012 Summer Olympics Canada
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