Having a different point of view in the bygone days of coffee shop rendez-vous while sustaining vigorous debate used to be a good thing. Today having a different point of view means that the unusual individual is a bigot, a foe, a murderer, and a general traitor to the "established" group think on any number of subjects. Take your pick.
When I write film reviews, lovely geeky nerds discuss my ideas, adding their own opinions to the thread and we have a lovely old time. When I post articles about food, or recipes and even veganism, the internet respectfully disagrees with my personal hatred of tofu and we all have a lovely old time.
Trolling - I don't even like calling it that. The very name itself is giving it existence, giving it credibility as if it is just something that people do. It's not. Pre 2012 Trolling was just known as being a horrible bastard, now it is seen as a gateway to fame; a hall pass to be offensive and obnoxious in return for some self-satisfaction and credibility.
In my day, compared to today, it was a simpler form of bullying - not that I am condoning it in any way - but it was face to face, name calling, physical and mental hurts, you knew the name and the face of the bullies, you knew the familiar outlines as they came towards you so you could run in the opposite direction. Today not only do you have to contend with what I went through you also have to contend with the cyber bullying - the nameless and faceless who say the most disgusting things because they feel they have an anonymity and an autonomy to behave without repercussion.
Maybe Jennifer Aniston is not the best example if you espouse the mantra 'live by the camera die by the camera'. She has had plenty of opportunities as a result of her media profile; she has significant resources as a result of her public profile to shield her from the worse excesses of the Internet. But she is a useful poster child to remind us of the dangers of the Internet.
The internet turned out to be the most democratic space which can be accessed by everyone who can use a bit of tech to better their lives and knowledge base... Suicides, depression, anxiety, and humiliation - all these and more are associated with the internet, what with some people using it to vent their sadism out.
By now you'll have probably heard of Breanna Mitchell, the teenage girl who posted a selfie smiling at Auschwitz concentration camp. Although she posted the photo some time ago (June 20th), it has only recently gone viral - clocking up more than 3300 retweets and a barrage of abuse over the past few days.
I'm not sure about you but I'm still figuring things out as I go along - and I don't think there is any shame in that. We might not always like what we hear but we've got to respect it all the same. The power of debate is rooted in our differences and imperfections. The tide of subsequent social and political change relies as much on our ears as our mouths.
I regularly receive Twitter comments ranging from the tame and jejune 'fag', 'fudge packer', 'cock sucker', 'spazzy' and 'ugly cunt' to the more personal and nasty 'you should have been kicked out of your mums womb', 'I'd slit your throat fag', 'You should get raped with a machete' and 'Hitler had the right idea. Put you faggot bastards in an oven at 230 degrees until crispy'.