Charlotte Dawson Strikes Back

Charlotte Dawson Strikes Back

Remember Charlotte Dawson? She’s a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model who became the public face of what the mainstream media is calling “Twitter trolls”. She landed in hospital after a tirade of abuse was levelled against her and she went on to be the face of an anti-troll campaign. Now, though, Charlotte has gone full circle. She’s got herself a camera crew, a mainstream news outlet and a phone book and is going around to the houses of the “trolls” to confront them face-to-face. Sound familiar? It should. Here’s why.

Way back in August, someone said some nasty things to a fan of Charlotte’s on Twitter. Dawson took it upon herself to unmask this first troll as Tanya Heti, a university mentor at Monash.

Dawson reported the abuse to the institution, which promptly suspended Tanya from her post. The hate then rolled in as the frankly awful hashtag, #gohangyourself, started to pick up steam. Charlotte tweeted at 2am that morning a photo of a handful of pills and a tweet that said simply “you win x”. She was later hospitalised, but has since made a full recovery.

Dawson used the incident as a lightning rod to crusade against online bullies. A nice cause, but quicker than you can blink, The Daily Telegraph slapped an easily digestible label on it and called it the “Stop The Trolls” campaign.

The campaign involved getting “celebs” to rail against those who had said mean things about them online as the Tele’s smug poster-boy, Joe Hildebrand, railed against Twitter-founder Jack Dorsey for “protecting” these “monsters”.

The whole campaign was pathetic at the least and comical at the extreme. It all began to fall apart for the Telegraph when Robbie Farah — a footballer who had jumped onto the bandwagon after someone said mean things about his recently deceased mother — was exposed as having encouraged the Prime Minister, of all people, to hang herself. Lovely.

The paper quickly declared its campaign a success and moved onto the next equally pointless issue. Bike paths or parking fines or something else that threatens the survival of humanity.

But after a recent Insight special on SBS about the trolls starring Hildebrand himself, the campaign looked to be over. We could go back to accurately figuring out for ourselves the difference between bullying (which is very serious), and “trolls”, which is a mainstream media buzzword. But no. The mainstream, anti-troll media is at it again.

Tonight on Seven News, Dawson will go around to the houses and workplaces of the “trolls” and confront them over what they said.

Here’s the promo (it’s well worth sitting through the pre-roll ad):

You have to be joking with this one, Charlotte.

Charlotte Dawson — anti-bullying crusader and the lightning rod for the Stop The Trolls campaign — is going around to troll and bully those who did the same thing to her on Twitter? Pull the other one. It’s revenge television at its most pathetically petty.

From the obnoxious premise, right through to the tacky moving Twitter logo Seven News is using to blank out the faces of the accused, presumably because they can’t confirm if they actually are these trolls or not, this stinks to high heaven.

What’s worse about this exercise is that you don’t know how these people are going to react to being confronted. You don’t know if they’re simply going to shrug and say they did it because internet, or if they’re going to turn violent for violating their personal space like you seem to be by screaming in their faces, Charlotte.

In a weird way, life is now imitating art when it comes to the Charlotte Dawson-led crusade against common sense. Take this scene from Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back for example. Our eponymous heroes take it upon themselves to visit everyone who said bad things about them on the internet and beat them senseless.

If this is where tonight’s report is going, sign me up, otherwise Charlotte Dawson needs to take a long hard bath in her own shameful behaviour to reflect on when and where she decided to sell herself out down to the level of these faceless keyboard crusaders.

It’s also worth throwing a stone at the mainstream media for this one, too: get the f**k off the internet. You don’t understand it, and you don’t belong there.