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Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake Mm11

Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake Regist10

Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake

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Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake Empty Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake

Post by Jill Havern on 06.07.19 19:58

Behind every internet sensation like Simone Burns, there's a human life at stake

We may never know the truth about Simone Burns. What, aside from three small bottles of red wine, drove her to hurl racial abuse at staff on an Air India flight from Mumbai to London last year? If you saw that now-infamous four-minute clip of her foul-mouthed tirade at the time – during which she demanded more alcohol and spat at the cabin crew – you’ll remember how awful it was. In April, she was, quite rightly, sentenced to six months; on May 20, she was released on licence. Thirteen days later, she was found dead at the foot of Beachy Head.

A friend – she did have some left – said her “world fell apart” after her drunken rant went viral and she became a target for trolls.

If it all sounds horribly familiar, that’s because it is. Take your pick. How about 63-year-old Brenda Leyland, who, in 2015, was widely vilified for trolling Kate and Gerry McCann on Twitter. Using the name @sweepyface, she allegedly posted abusive messages about the couple, saying she hoped they would suffer “for the rest of their miserable lives”.

In the five years since Brenda was found dead in a Leicestershire hotel room, we still haven’t grasped the fact that online actions can lead to tragic, real-world consequences. That behind every internet scandal, meme and viral clip, there is a human life. And whether someone is sat at home spewing bile about a missing child, or shouting racist comments and smoking in the aircraft loo, it is clearly quite a troubled human life.

Within hours of Burns’s air rage being posted online, millions of us were sharing it, gasping at it, encouraging the social media pile-on. She received death threats and was called every name under the sun. Which hasn’t stopped now. As the news of her death broke this week, people were tweeting “not a moment too soon”.
One person wrote: “Good riddance Simone Burns and may you eternally burn in hell’s fire!”

Is there a more depressing indictment of our social media mob mentality than this?

What’s even scarier to me is how enthusiastically people want to chip in. Forget the stereotype of the sad, middle-aged man who still lives at home with his mum and spends hours on his computer, sending his bitter thoughts into the Twitterverse.

What has changed in the past five years is that those willing to harass and abuse online are increasingly happy not to hide behind anonymity – the grey, egg-shaped mugshot of old; they are all too delighted to put their names to their poisonous posts and bask in the controversy caused.

“Straight-talking” they call it nowadays. Trolling is another term. And however awful someone’s behaviour is, trolling a troll does not make a right.

We have to ask ourselves how many times we want to punish someone who has already served their time – as Simone Burns had. Yes, what she did was awful. But perhaps it was “out of character”, as she claimed. Perhaps she had suffered enough. How long is long enough in the court of social media justice? Until they crumble? Until they break?

How different the world might be if we were all kinder to one another. More forgiving. Tolerance is an overpreached term, but when people are dying as a consequence of being shamed online, don’t we have to reach for it?

I prescribe a course for marketing company boss Gerard O’Shaughnessy who, this week, put out a controversial job advert telling “snowflakes”, phone addicts, party-lovers and women with “psycho boyfriends” not to apply.

Gerard, who some might say has the midas touch when it comes to marketing his business, has described how he confiscates his employee’s phones, and that their partners have previously demanded regular message updates throughout the day – with one man even turning up at the office and banging on the door because his girlfriend hadn’t replied.

Excuse me for saying so, but if any women who work for you have “psycho boyfriends”, constantly texting and demanding to see them at work, you should be more concerned that they’re in a controlling relationship, rather than just labelling them a “snowflake” and confiscating their phone.

But that’s the nub of the prob, whether online or off. It’s far easier to label someone – a drunk, a snowflake, an unforgivable – than address the cause. To ask ourselves whether they deserve it. Simone Burns’s story should be a warning to us all. 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/behind-every-internet-sensation-like-simone-burns-human-life/
Jill Havern
Jill Havern


Posts : 15138
Join date : 2009-11-25
Location : parallel universe

http://gerrymccan-abuseofpower-humanrights.blogspot.co.uk/

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