Ok, I admit it..the Daily Mail is my secret guilty pleasure – there I’ve said it. I enjoy the celeb gossip (when it’s nor bordering too much on misogyny) but even more so the comments. So as soon as I read the title of Samantha Brick’s “Why women hate me for being beautiful” article yesterday on The Daily Mail, it was easy to predict what the reader response would be. What I didn’t expect was the viral spread of the story.
If this woman was looking for publicity, she certainly got it in spades – 5020 comments at last count, over a million hits on the article and a Twitter storm.
Today Samantha writes a follow-up article (which is bound to provoke a fresh avalanche of strong reaction) where she says that the “response it provoked has been extraordinary in its volume and vitriol, and beyond anything I could have imagined when I first started work at my keyboard… I’ve been lambasted on Twitter. Dragons’ Den judge Duncan Bannatyne has asked if what I’ve written is ‘a joke’, DJ Lauren Laverne tweeted about me all day (none of it nice) and countless so-called comedians have written unprintable things about me.”
While I am fascinated from a PR/social media perspective on how quickly opinion flares around a topic that sparks interest on Twitter, I also think it opens up an important debate around the phenomenon of “trolling”.
Samantha writes, “Until this week I never really understood the term ‘Trolling’ — used to describe when anonymous people viciously attack others on the internet. Now I do! It would appear it’s OK for anyone to post comments without any remorse or thought for the consequences their actions might have.”
Someone wrote something recently on Facebook about how they despair of the human race when they read some of the comments on YouTube. I would have to agree. I find it really disturbing to see the level of nastiness that people show online. Where does it come from? Would these people be quite so vitriolic face to face? Somehow I doubt it.
I will leave the last word on this to Irish journalist, Brenda Power, the victim herself of internet trolling who believes that “tweeting is a bit like shouting at other drivers from the safety of your car: at a cocoon remove, you feel free to make remarks you’d never have the guts to say to their faces. “