I recently had an interview with a journalist from The Express, which covered the subject of online abuse, misogyny as a hate crime and such matters. When the article was published the headline was ‘Ex-top cop is demanding online abuse of women becomes a hate crime’
So, two issues become immediately apparent, firstly I was not and have never declared myself to be a top cop in any manner and secondly, I have not demanded, I’ve suggested. The headline is not written by the journalist but by another seeking to grab the attention of readers.
The article was subsequently posted online and was an accurate reflection of the interview and one which I was grateful to have the exposure it generated. Below the article were the comments that were posted. At the last count there were only seventeen comments, so far from a significant response, but it did give a very small insight into what happens to my clients.
Those who chose to respond were generally negative, sarcastic and trying to be insulting. Fortunately, having spent the best part of 3 decades being called every name under the sun because of my job, I’m not that easily offended.
What they demonstrated is that they know nothing about the subject, how newspapers work or me. There was a millisecond though, when I thought about responding, but chose not to and actually laughed it off.
The point is that those in the public eye, be they celebrities, CEOs, politicians or athletes have this on a daily basis and x 1000. The comments they receive are the same; poorly informed, sarcastic, and generally insulting. The difference is that they get this every hour of every day, and if you are a woman, the comments are likely be highly abusive, degrading and frankly disgusting. The comments that I received were very typical of what men receive, questioning my competence, sarcastic and supposedly insulting.
Some might say, and in fact have done so in response to an article or comment that I have posted, that ‘they’ should stop moaning and just come off social media. My response is that those who share that view are equally ill informed. Why should they come off social media? Why should they keep their opinions to themselves? Why is it that the public figure is shouted down for expressing their views, but the troll isn’t? Social media is part of our lives now, most successful businesses have a social media profile and many people are well rewarded for their presence and become ‘influencers’. By ‘coming off’ social media you are in effect enabling the trolls to win as that is exactly what they want, to intimidate and silence you. The idea that you should either just accept the abuse or leave is small minded and disappointing.
Now I only had a very small snapshot of what my clients get, and I am hugely grateful for it as whilst it can never compare to what they receive and thankfully was in no way as abusive or disgusting as some receive it allowed me for a microsecond to enter their world.