It seems obvious to say, but the severity and frequency of online abuse is getting worse. Individuals are targeted over Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites and abused for no reason. It reached a level so severe that the footballing world took a social media boycott over the bank holiday weekend.
I praise the actions of the football world and anyone else raising awareness, but sadly, I don’t think it’s enough. In my eyes this is a problem that isn’t going anywhere.
Naturally, those in the public eye who hold a larger social media following are subject to more abuse. However, as someone who has been on the receiving end of it – this can happen to anyone. The impact it has on our mental health is devastating, for example, the suicide of Caroline Flack in February 2020.
Despite the different shapes online abuse can take – racism, body shaming and emotional abuse to name a few – there is one ever present – social media.
Part of the reason these people committing online abuse find it so easy is because they have an online platform to hide behind. Their identity isn’t out in the public as it would be if you take away their Twitter/Instagram profile. To make things worse, if one account is shutdown for such behaviour they can simply start another under a new name in a matter of minutes.
My experiences of online abuse
For anyone who is unaware, I’m a fully qualified journalist, but that hasn’t been the case for all of my working life. Before that I was project manager for five years between travels.
I made the switch in September 2019. Early on we were told Twitter is an excellent tool for journalists – but that’s all we were really told.
I had wanted to pursue a writing based career for a while. Once I took a step in the right direction to achieve it I was naturally very excited. Within the first year of my journalism career I had my name in some big national publications which seemed impossible a matter of months earlier.
After picking up a few bylines I started sharing my work on Twitter, for no other reason than I was proud of myself. Big mistake. BIG mistake. I was getting abuse for having my name below the headline, despite the fact it wasn’t my choice what I was writing back then.
I’m not naive in the sense that I know journalists are subject to a lot of criticism. In fact, I’ve been guilty in the past of being overly critical at some of the ‘news’ I see online. That all stopped once I had the first few comments appear in my DMs and mentions.
The other abusive comments I’ve received online are related to my surname – Camp.
This isn’t such a big problem in my journalism career or adult life in general. Instead, it was an issue when I was growing up. Although i’m fully aware that immaturity played a big part in this, it was still damaging towards my self-esteem at such an age. However, as I grew older and issues stopped in that sense, social media grew in popularity and with that the abuse resurfaced online.
I’ve received some truly horrible comments about my surname online. As shocking as being told to kill himself with such a name.
Sadly, it wasn’t a one off when using social media to interact with others on status’, polls and debates on Facebook pages.
I stopped interacting on Facebook polls and status’ as a result of the abuse, and I’ve made my profile as private as it can be and as hard to find as possible. I simply use social media as a way of keeping in touch with my travel friends who are scattered across the globe. Nothing more. Nothing less.
As for abuse received due to sharing my articles on Twitter – I’ve stopped sharing. In fact, the only form of writing I share on the platform is this blog. Which is something I’ve had labelled as needy and attention seeking in the past – even this isn’t safe.
It’s a shame it has come to that so early on but I have to protect my mental health. I do a lot less writing in my current work but the hope is I can start sharing my articles again in the future.
I don’t have a particularly big social media presence. Less than 700 followers on Instagram and Twitter combined and just over 600 Facebook friends. Even numbers that low are subject to online abuse.
Compare that to the volume of abuse targeted at Premier League footballers and other A-list celebrities whose followers are in the millions. The amount and severity of online abuse i’ve received is minuscule by comparison. And I do want to stress that online abuse i’ve received was minuscule, but it happened and it was hurtful.
However, one comparison between me and a-listers is that we are people with emotions. And tragically, through events such as the suicide of Love Island host Caroline Flack, we know the damage it can have.
We’re not doing enough to educate
During my secondary school days the Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy happened. For those of you who are unaware, this was an incident involving the late Jade Goody as well as Jackiey Budden, Danielle Lloyd, and Jo O’Meara and concerned Indian contestant Shilpa Shetty on the popular reality TV show.
The incident currently holds the second highest number of OFCOM complaints on British television.
At the time of the controversy my year group was aged 12-13, so we didn’t grasp the severity of it understandably.
My form tutor at the time was a South African man. During one of our daily 25 minute tutorials he started an open discussion with us about the incident and why it was racist. By the end of the session every member of my form was considerably wiser on the subject of racism. All it took was 25 minutes.
I’m not saying regular talks like that are the answer to problems such as online abuse and racism. However, just like the footballing world’s social media boycott and anti-racism campaigns – it’s a start.
The impact of social media on our mental health
I originally wanted to include this at the end of this blog post. However, there is so much to be said on the subject that i’ve decided to save that for next week – published at 20:00 on May 12 2021!
2021 London Marathon
I’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind!
If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My blog post about the event
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk