Just when the news seemed like the news could not get any worse in the wake of the loss of the fabulous Robin Williams, it did.
I was so sorry to hear that the beloved comedian’s daughter Zelda was being harassed by bullies on Twitter on the day after her dad’s death was announced. Sorry – but, as someone who was once relentlessly bullied by cowards myself – not too surprised. It is fully within the sadistic realm of the bullies’ psychology to attack anyone they think is down. Bullies hope someone having a sad day will cross their path. Online, when there’s a story like this that has such a high profile, the little nasties must feel like they’ve hit the online troll jackpot. The surviving daughter of a famous father who met too early a death is a bullying gutless wonder’s idea of a dream-come-true target.
But tell me, World: do the trolls who take pot-shots at a young woman in a position like Zelda’s strike you as emotionally healthy?
There has been a lot of positive discussion this week about getting help for those people who are depressed, suicidal, or destroying themselves through substance abuse, all of which is on the mind of the public because of the death of Robin Williams. I’d like to suggest that there’s yet another group that is begging to be added to the psychiatric evaluation list: these online bullies! There is a distinctly sociopathic element to their actions, which they combine with a twisted and malignant take on how the real world works, by falsely believing their pointless, mean-spirited actions render them “cool” rather than asinine.
These Internet trolls need to be assessed – and stopped.
So many of such types exist on another forum I know of – Broadwayworld – that a coded thread was created with a “special title” so as to attract non-trolls. Can you believe this? Grown men and women had to dream up a “code thread” and post under it to try to steer clear of the little Broadwayworld sickies. I got reamed on another part of that forum a few times myself. It was staggering to see what went on over there. It’s a site where online bullies are fully allowed to run absolutely rampant. All the way back on May 24, 2013, I contacted the Broadwayworld executives to ask that they do something about it before they wind up on the receiving end of a well-deserved lawsuit, but they just ignore complaints. To date, there has been no reply – and it’s a year and a half later! For that, they lost me not only as a participant but also as a customer. Countless others I know also avoid that site, defeating its purpose for the owners, since those that leave it don’t purchase through it. Hey, I can always get my show tickets elsewhere, thanks! The trolls are delighted if someone leaves, their twisted mission is accomplished, but that does not make them any less sick.
They are dangerous, these online trolls. Make no mistake about that. They’re emotional terrorists. They create problems for other people for no reason whatsoever – except that they feel “entitled” to do so. They not only frighten away online customers on a badly run website like the one with the coded thread. They make personal attacks on people they don’t know, hoping to cause as much misery as possible, while pumping themselves up as falsely “powerful.” Their “fun” is pure sadism. Imagine what kind of disasters they might just create within the heart of a vulnerable, grieving child, or any other person who may be having too tough a day to begin with.
Get them assessed!
Get the owners of these websites that don’t stop them assessed, too, if they cannot take positive action and fix the problem. No self-respecting, responsible adult would sit back, do nothing, and give emotionally twisted bullies a forum!
Twitter, I just found out, is going to review its policies about online harassment following this incident. That’s a great move on their part, so bravo! Can we hope it’s the start of a trend?
To Zelda Williams: Have you ever heard that a lotus can only bloom after it rises up from the mud? Isn’t that a good one? The bullies you’ve withstood this week certainly qualify as “the mud,” but just wait and see. Take it from me. I lived through plenty of situations like this. Soon enough the nonsense of today will become your blossoms of tomorrow. The world’s going to take a few turns, your career will start blooming, and one day there you will be – performing to cheers on Broadway, or picking up your first Oscar. Meanwhile, I hope you know that people of goodwill everywhere are wishing we knew you personally so that we could stand in your corner tonight.