Charlotte Dawson

twitter trolls on trial

Look, there's no question what happened to Charlotte Dawson is awful and I wish her a fast recovery. I think it's clear now that we need to perhaps have a serious conversation about the way we are hooked on social media to the point that we can't look away... when we really should. That is as opposed to a conversation about '

Banning Social Media

' - which is patently ridiculous and '

Stronger Defamation Laws

' which is pretty much completely unpoliceable on Twitter 

at present

and if you look internationally it's often these laws that are misused for censorship.

I also think it's worth noting that Charlotte, like all of us, has herself said some pretty awful things online.

To tell you the truth, I've said worse online and I've had others say far worse to me. The difference is when you have the capacity to look away. I've had close friends who have been the victim of sustained attacks of online hate. Undoubtedly, an onslaught is harder to ignore and switch off. However, that is precisely what is required here.

The difficulty is that  Facebook and Twitter are among the greatest drugs of our time. Social Media sites  are not simply marvelous bits of technology they are also brilliant pieces of psychological art. They feed on our desire to connect with other, to be leaders of a pack, to hear the inside word direct from the rich, famous, powerful and clever. I don't like to buy into predictable op-eds about how "OMG Social Media is making us a generation of narcissists!!". It hasn't. We who are addicted are already narcissists, Social Media is perfectly designed to feed on those pre-existing impulses. That is the discussion we need to have - about learning when to ignore, finding methods of switching off. Because sure as the sun will come up: arseholes will always exist. Some of them can be gagged by shining a light on them. Others, as we saw last night, thrive on the attention. The only thing you can truly control is how you react to them.

Once again, I wish Charlotte a speedy recovery, but for everyone else: Let's not be quite so reactionary when it comes to putting Social Media on trial. It's all a lot more nuanced than the media (of which I suppose I am part) are behaving.