By Keshav Chhabra
The recent cyber attack on actor Shruti Seth by Twitteratis is not the first time celebrities have been exposed to cyber abuse. Over the years, death threats have been received, especially by those who have ventured to express their opinion. Though these opinions are different from the mainstream, but sometimes, one wonders at the futility of such attacks. The easy privilege of anonymity with the introduction of social media has been a perfect catalyst for “trolls”; trolls which no more are limited to ridicule and jokes but insensible and vulgar abuse.
Considering the array of such attacks, it might be a bit too easy (and inappropriate) to dismiss these attacks in the name of “politics”. The accusations hurdled are usually baseless; almost no one trying to be polite enough to share the opinion. The tweets directed towards Seth were immensely misogynistic; ironically by those who were empowering females in India by #SelfieWithDaughter.
What Steve Ragan calls in his article “an easily exploitable attack surface”, the space has driven many to sign off from this virtual world. Sara Payne, Zelda Williams (Robin Williams’s daughter), Lily James, Stephen Fry, Jennifer Lawrence and many more decided to cut off this series after waves of social media abuse. The “sick jokes” are not easy to handle, are they? So, what could have been an avoidable situation ended up becoming the worst nightmare for someone who was brave enough to express an opinion.
Meghna Pant in her article writes about the fear she faced, after becoming a victim of cyber abuse writes, “It’s hard to describe the kind of fear I began to feel, but it was somewhat like being publicly lynched.” She talks about how the comments were directed on her face, her body. The threats of rape and acid attacks were directed to her, not for what she thinks, but because she is a woman.
A video which rocked the world of cyber bullying titled “My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm” depicting the story of a victim Amanda Todd has received more than ten million hits on Youtube. But the story has not changed much. Cyber abuse, which makes no distinction on the basis of gender, does not seem to end in the coming future. According to a report conducted by the state of Missouri in United States of America, around 38 per cent of frequent bully-victims reported suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt during the past one year.
Though many come up in the front to report such cases and extend their support to the victims of social abuse, the damage caused cannot be repaired. Apart from our own sensibility towards the issue, future exhibits little hope.