TROLLS

I’ve touched a little bit on this in the past – the fact that people can make running a rescue so much harder than it needs to be. With the suicide of Caroline Flack on Saturday it made me realise that sometimes social media can be our biggest enemy. It is this necessary evil – a tool to spread the work you do and offer help – yet also a weapon that can be used against you.

Last year we were trolled on our page quite a lot. We had people with no interest in bird rescue putting comments just to cause upset – people with no idea about what we do and no knowledge of how we work. Running Every Feather Bird Rescue has meant that at times I’ve had to bite my tongue because everything I say reflects on the Rescue – but it doesn’t stop people using the Rescue as a way of getting at me personally or upsetting my family. I have read comments on our and other pages which have been so cruel and unnecessary that I wonder if the person actually thought about what they were writing – they certainly wouldn’t have said it to my face so why is it okay to write it and publically post it?

Late last year people were encouraged by another rescue to come onto our page to slate us – there was a post put up on another page where people with personal grudges made up lies to defame us. We had to call the Police in the end because it got to the point where my sister was seriously unwell. The post on the other rescue’s page became a place for people to go just to be cruel and make up lies – the people posting where people who had a personal grudge.

I have had horrible messages, fake profiles used to try and harass me, accusations that border on the absolute ridiculous and hang-up phone calls. I’ve been accused of lying by people who want to cover up their wrongs. I’ve been villified a number of times. The problem is that if one person starts then everyone-else you have ever had an issue with jumps on board behind the cover of their computer screen.

How can people cope with all this and still continue functioning on a day to day basis? For someone in the public eye like Caroline Flack it must have seemed impossible – because I know it’s brought me close to the edge quite a few times. Last night I found out that one of my close friends and her husband had been subjected to horrible comments made on Facebook because of the good work they do in their local community. Since when did it become wrong to try and do the right thing?

When you run a rescue you meet some amazing people – but you also see things that you simply can’t ignore. I read a quote recently that said:

“Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.”

Elie Wiesel

Sometimes I worry that less people will speak out because the repercussions can be catastrophic – we are almost encouraged to see things and ignore them so we don’t get bullied or harassed. The closure of another local rescue due to neglect and welfare issues had nothing to do with Every Feather, although we had raised concerns previously and supported the volunteers who eventually brought the matter to the correct authorities. As a result a volunteer from that rescue and her husband turned into the worst kind of trolls. The cost of doing the right thing should never seem higher than doing the right thing in the first place.

What can we do? Well we can think before we speak. We can be kind. We can evaluate whether something needs to be said at all. We can not wage war on individuals just because they might have offended someone we like. We can be human beings instead of trolls.

This world is a cruel place and every person in it is under so much pressure. I don’t want to be remembered for the people I attacked unnecessarily or the damage I caused – I want to be remembered for being kind and for trying to make my part of the world a little better. What is amazing is that there is so much good we can do? I’m surprised anyone has time to focus on anything so destructive.

Alot of people are saying that if you can be anything in the world you should be kind. I’d also say that if you can’t be kind then be silent. x

I promise a more uplifting and bird related post next time.

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