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'.
It appears that hating Taylor Swift is one of the internet's favourite hobbies. Just Google her name and you're hit with a virtual tsunami of fierce hatred... But here's the thing. Hatred for Taylor Swift seems entirely arbitrary. Nobody appears able to properly justify trolling her, or disliking her. Substitute any other young pop star into any of the above-described scenarios and the public reaction would have been completely different.
The critical thing which needs to be done is that parents, guardians, teachers and friends need to take more responsibility to protect individuals who are young (and vulnerable) to ensure that they do not receive any abuse. These people can act as the 'Watchdogs', but they must understand how the internet works...
Schools also need to wake up to the fact that there is a strong need for that half hour PSHE lesson each week to include one of the most significant parts of a school pupils life. Making it clear to children that they can report online abuse to teachers, parents and if necessary the police, is vital. Caution needs to be encouraged.
Almost straightaway the negative reactions began. While there is always a valuable place for disagreement and the sort of comment that can develop an article's argument or add to it, this eleven-year-old's writing incited such descriptions as "feminist bull-shit" and ambiguous statements that the author belonged "to a certain tribe."
Perhaps Twitter should consider looking at verified accounts in a completely different way... maybe it should be a compulsory part of signing up for an account. If you've handed over government issued identification papers during sign-up (driving license, passport etc) to prove who you are, you're significantly less likely to start sending out death threats - unless you're stupid.
Men don't tend to do sulking. If there is an issue, they address the issue. Everyone feels better and cracks on with their day job. Later they will go for a drink and talk about cricket. Equally, if you are going to play the PMT card and stomp about ... you really need to be sure you haven't been a bit of an arse on Twitter yourself. Duplicity does not work.
The panic about these keyboard-tapping folk devils, this handful of very sad men who are said to pose an existential threat to the safety and self-esteem of the whole of womankind, conforms precisely to Cohen's definition of a moral panic. With one difference: the moral panic over trolls has even less substance.
Online abuse is a complex issue with no easy answer, but we can all take steps to rid the world of trolls. First, stop using the word, and get real. Be compassionate, caring, and kind towards each other. Let's all live by the The Golden Rule of Twitter - tweet others as you would like to be tweeted yourself.
In the two decades since, the web has opened up communication and ideas in ways few dreamed possible. As a tool which enables people to speak freely with others all over the world, putting thousands of information sources at our fingertips, the web has fuelled revolutions and overthrown governments.