Just watched a short doco on the late Charlotte Dawson. Maybe I should keep this post to myself, but I suppose a blog is designed to be public, isn’t it? I could look up the statistics of how many people fatally hurt themselves on a daily basis, but I don’t really want to. The other day Mum and I were watching the film The Book Thief, and got talking about nuclear weaponry for some reason. “The world is such a scary place,” I had said. Her eyes on the Nazi Germany war scenes before her, Mum replied, “It always has been.”
Charlotte Dawson was a TV personality here and in Australia. Google Image search her name and a hundred beautiful photographs of this stunning, smiling woman come up. But as she pointed out in her final interview, no matter how much positive media coverage she got, it did not make her immune to hurt.
You never know what someone is going through – physically, mentally, emotionally. You know by now I am an advocate of compassion towards animals, but it goes for people as well. People use and abuse each other. Take each other for granted. Hurt each other, intentionally or unintentionally. It was reported in this documentary tonight that Charlotte was plagued with horrible, vulgar, spiteful Twitter messages from people. Telling her to hang herself, saying things like “No wonder you can’t breed – nobody would want to touch you” (she wanted children so badly). In the piece below, she confronts some of these “internet trolls”, reportedly after she had already been driven to a suicide attempt.
I can’t put into words how it makes me feel. Individuals who excuse horrible behaviour by simply saying something like “Well this is Generation Y. Get over it.” The reality is, some people don’t “get over it”. Charlotte, a high profile personality, is now a case in point. And as her friend Alex Perry pointed out, every single one of the people who ever sent her a horrible Tweet, who ever said anything hurtful to her, who ever called her a name or disrespected her: each one is partially responsible for her ultimate action to kill herself. For some people, social media is a deadly concoction of viral negativity that manifests itself into everyday life despite it originating from a computer or phone screen. I never met Charlotte, and I don’t want to write as if I knew her, but in this documentary tonight her family pointed out that she had an addictive personality, and it drove her to read and reread horrible hate messages directed at her, and seek these “trolls” out. Some people can easily brush negativity off, and in a position of cyber bullying would simply ignore spiteful messages. But some people can’t do that. Some people care so much about what others think of them, even if those other people are on the other side of the world and will never meet them face-to-face. Maybe it is a trait of low self-worth or a characteristic of depression. I don’t know the first thing about psychology, and it is hard to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, but I am fairly certain that if I was in the spotlight and I was faced with an artillery of written abuse I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from reading such messages either. Some people can stop it from getting to them. Some don’t find it that easy.
I can see why Charlotte wanted to confront those trolls. Maybe she wanted to understand their behaviour a little better. Maybe she hoped that if she showed them she is an actual person it would make it harder for them to type out horrible messages so quickly. Perhaps she just wanted to give them a little taste of what they gave her. But I think that no matter how many times she did it, no matter how many trolls she managed to successfully track down and confront, it would never bring her satisfaction. I feel heartbroken for her. She wanted to campaign about this bullying and make a difference – because she truly understood its worst effects. Not only was she emotionally invested every time something hurt her, but she also poured energy into trying to bring an end to something that affected her so deeply. All I can say is that people are cruel. People are never going to stop hurting each other, not unless something inside all of us changes drastically. But she fought so hard. She fought too hard. It breaks my heart.
It frightens me how easily people hurt each other. It frightens me that people can go through life without caring about how their actions affect others, even others that are meant to be so close to them. People hurt their family, friends, partners – those you love are the ones that can hurt you the most, no? And yet we keep doing it. We excuse ourselves, our behaviour. I often wonder how individuals can be so different; how some people care about the affects they have on those around them, while others don’t even let it cross their minds. I don’t know what the point of this post was. Thinking out loud I suppose. Today I can’t wait to get back to the wolves, those beautiful, howling, gentle giants who have also been hurt by human actions. I wish I could hold people like Charlotte close, and help them feel that they aren’t alone and that there are other options. Being consumed by depression is utterly spirit-destroying – you can’t do it alone. Reach out. And if you are worried about someone near you, reach out to them. And stop hurting each other, for goodness sake. Every decision has a consequence, no matter how big or how small. Every action, every word. These are your choices, and they are your responsibilities.