Social media can be useful, but for infantile minds that have never progressed beyond the school playground, Facebook and Twitter are fertile grounds for their childish spite and envy. Bullying is rife in the internet playground. Even here on Waiheke there's a site (the aptly named WIPP) where Facebook bullies have urged others to kill themselves. Sadly, the consequences for the subjects of abuse who have unstable personalities, especially those suffering from depression, can be fatal.
David Farrar has this to say about the tragedy on Kiwiblog:
Dawson was very open about her battle with depression. Many were supportive of her, but there were quite a few who were incredibly nasty towards her on Twitter and urged her to kill herself. I hope those people who took part in her tormenting go through a period of soul searching.
I didn’t know Charlotte first hand, but know several people who did know her well, and they always spoke warmly of her sense of humour and generosity. Both her passing, and the manner of it, are very sad. (For those who may need assistance, the depression helpline is 0800 111 757)
A prime example of how social media bullying can escalate into abuse was demonstrated on WIPP over the weekend.
On Saturday evening I posted a blog, with photographs, of the ‘Stand Down Len Brown’ protest march up Queen St that day. Local Board Chairboy, Paul Walden, showed his immaturity by re-posting the photographs to the WIPP site knowing it would lead to a feeding frenzy of personal abuse. Naturally this ensued. It was clear he knew what he was doing because he refused to remove the thread even when urged to do so after the bullying turned into abuse. The bullying only ended when the subject of some of the abuse threatened legal action.
As chairman of a local board Walden needs to understand that his actions reflect on Council as an organisation. The organisation has a code of conduct for how elected representatives deal with the public. He disrespects the position when he behaves in this manner.
He forgets he represents ALL of us. His bad example is becoming repetitive (see my Conduct Unbecoming blog). His actions only encourage the growing reputation of Waiheke as Auckland Council's recalcitrant child.