Shropshire Star comment: Internet trolls need addressing

Captain Tom Moore was a man who made his mark on the world in an old-fashioned, good way which saw him hailed as a hero.

The internet is not without its shortcomings.
The internet is not without its shortcomings.

His epic walk around his garden saw the 100-year-old raise £32 million for the National Health Service.

Sadly the internet empowers and enables those who seek to make their mark on the world in an entirely different fashion.

In their lonely rooms and bubbles created by their own fantasies or twisted and sick trains of thought, they can throw stones at icons and get a perverse kick from it. It must be the same sort of thrill they might get from defacing works of art, damaging street furniture, or something like that.

They are nobodies who offer nothing who turn to social media to try to become somebodies – anonymous somebodies is often their preferred choice – and get some sort of reaction.

In his final days the family of Captain Tom had to keep from him the hateful messages which were being sent. His daughter says that his heart would have been broken if he had found out.

Although she has understandably not gone into detail, it has been reported that some were related to his bucket list trip to Barbados just before Christmas.

We also know that the national clap in his honour after his death was criticised by one London priest, comparing it to a cult of white British nationalism, although unlike the skulking trolls on social media he did have the grace to apologise.

At its best the internet is a wonderful modern phenomenon, connecting the world, teaching the world, and expanding horizons.

At its worst, it has proven to be a way to measure and reveal a hidden psychological sickness in society, a cesspool inhabited by the vile, the nasty, the sneerers, jeerers, and bullies, those who think Covid is a hoax, not to mention the outright crooks for whom it is a lucrative international Wild West without any sheriffs.

Children brought up in this era can rejoice in the positive aspects of social media, but have reason to fear the dark side, the open-all-hours bullying forums from which getting home from school offers no escape.

Only slowly are those providers who benefit from the internet beginning to accept responsibility.

The internet brings freedom. We need to ask – freedom to do what?

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