Friday March 23rd


An interesting documentary featuring Richard Bacon this week focussed on the unsavoury practice of internet trolling. For anyone not familiar with this pastime it uses the anonymity afforded by the internet to provide those with an axe to grind or a nasty nature to share their venom through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. In short it is cyber bullying carried out by people who feel so strongly about unleashing their venom and vitriol that they often have to adopt a pseudonym or steal another’s identity to effectively get their point across. The whole process reeks of cowardice and a need to negate others lives for no other reason other than the fact they actually can.

Hosted by Bacon who has the misfortune of having a troll of his own who incessantly posts messages of hatred at his quarry through his Twitter feed it was interesting to witness how this recent form of bullying can be easily dismissed at the beginning but as the abuse continues and gathers momentum, becoming nastier and more distasteful, then it requires some more obvious form of action rather than simply turning the other cheek. Unfortunately not every victim of such tactics is strong enough to withstand days, weeks, months or even years of such abuse. During Bacon’s investigation he encountered the family of a fifteen year old victim who, after receiving a torrent of abuse from schoolmates over several hours one evening, had taken himself to the shed at the bottom of the garden and promptly proceeded to hang himself. This was the most tragic case in this documentary but it is by no means an isolated incident nor is it confined to teenagers- either in victims or perpetrators- although it is usually more prevalent amongst teenage girls.

What is it that drives people to make other peoples lives a misery? This is what Bacon set out to discover as he himself has been the target of an internet ‘troll’. At first dismissive of the abuse-being in the public eye does leave you overly exposed and some hostility will always inevitably arise- he only became concerned when the malevolence started being levelled at members of his family and, most worryingly, his new born baby. Although he was unable to answer this satisfactorily he was able to surmise that the anonymity of online social media encourages those who have such tendencies to become nastier and more malignant as they are unable to see the physical and mental anguish their words actually cause. Instead they feel any attention they receive is a positive response and this spurs them on even further,

Particularly despicable are those who gatecrash memorial sites and spread their toxic lies and accusations all over the page that families and friends have set up for people to pay their respects and assist them through their grieving process. The fact they very rarely do it under their own names shows the true nature of these ‘trolls’. In fact during Bacon’s investigation the two ‘trolls’ he encountered either refused to speak to him or else denied the allegations made against them. The fact that the latter eventually later relinquished and admitted he had made some of the remarks attributed to him but someone had stolen his identity-which he had made up- and that is who was responsible for some of the more outlandish remarks. Hardly seemed like a credible excuse or a sufficient reason explaining his vile actions and it wasn’t.

Inevitably it would seem there is no solution to this problem, as yet, and the only way of dealing with it is to either ignore it when it starts and if it persists report it to the police who cannot do that much unless they can track down the person responsible which becomes increasingly complicated due to the vast and complex nature of the internet which allows those prone to such a disposition to hide behind various nom de plumes and forged identities.

Although I am truly opposed to bullying in any form and abhor violence I must admit that I did enjoy the Grace Jones/ Russell Harty encounter from the early eighties which was shown in its entirety the other evening. This is the one which gained Grace a bucket load of notoriety and a sheaf of press headlines as during the course of the interview she whacked him around the head several times, almost knocking him out of his chair, after he had turned his back on her once too often. It was interesting in that it was enjoyable to see a star giving her host a hard time rather than simply playing the promotional game followed by obsequiousness we are used to nowadays. Grace, on the other hand, behaved exactly as we secretly want our stars to behave; aloof, indecipherable, cool, and as far removed from the girl next door as any amount of postcodes would allow. That she ignored his baiting when he questioned the conservatism of her attire remaining in it until the very end  then when about to perform she unbuttoned the full length leather coat she  had kept on throughout revealing a metal breast plate and bursting into an uber-cool version of Love is the  Drug. This wasn’t so much making an entrance as making one hell of an exit and a defiant V sign at her bumbling host.

Bullying-obviously the subject of the week- reared its head in the return of the Apprentice this week and clever editing-there are sixteen candidates at this stage so giving them equal airtime would make boring viewing I suppose, better then to fixate on the most annoying- allowed us to see who would be evicted this week. It was an annoying Bulgarian girl called Balaclava, or something, who had worked her way from a one room communist flat to the penthouses of London but this could not prevent her from being taken out by the SAS – an acronym for Slap and Stilettos which would make a perfect name for the collection of tough cookies that make up the female team- who could not bear her pushy ways nor could stand up comic Lord –yawn- Sugar who could not tolerate her inability to know when to shut up. A full dissection is available here.

This weekend bids a final farewell to the winter which never really was as the clocks go forward and we edge into spring. This past winter has been a relief after the severe harshness of the last two years and my only concern is that it doesn’t get any better and this mild but inoffensive weather continues through to the summer. This hasn’t stopped me from hopefully planning a summer wardrobe although last years hangs mainly unworn in my wardrobe so I suppose I can pass it off as recession chic. How very zeitgeist!

Here with an exercise in uber cool and the eternal sound of summer is that gloriously stroppy diva Grace Jones performing Private Life in 1980.

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