Do you have a Twitter account? Is Facebook your way of making your mark in the world? Get a life! This writer is happy to state he’s neither a Facebook-er, nor a Tweeter. What’s more, he never will be.
So why, you ask, the antipathy towards these social media sites? Isn’t it good that people can express themselves, reveal their innermost thoughts and prejudices to the world via the internet?
The internet is an incredible tool. These days it’s hard to imagine the world functioning without it. Indeed, economically we’d probably be in a right mess if the WWW was suddenly ‘switched off’. Companies spend trillions each year combating hackers attempting to do exactly that.
Like all amazing inventions it has its drawbacks. Nothing’s perfect. How could it be, we’re human beings, after all. We’re all aware of the dark side to the internet – pornography, crime, predatory sex, etc., but if there’s one thing the internet has achieved it’s to reveal to ourselves what we really are and just how vicious and predatory we can become when others dare to question our views.
Take Andie Pauly, for example. As the BBC reports, she delights in spreading her particular brand of vitriolic poison via her Twitter account. And she’s not alone. It’s impossible to assess how many broken lives, suicides, and heartbreaks have resulted from Twitter and other so-called ‘social media sites’, but there’s surely sufficient to consider them ‘anti-social media sites’, rather than the former.
Her name is Andie Pauly. She’s an illustrated example of America’s deep divisions, and the anger that flares up between left and right.
To her critics, she’s a racist troll who harasses her opponents, and she offers rewards to those who dox – reveal personal information about – her enemies. To her defenders, she’s a proud conservative standing up for free speech, and a victim of online abuse and harassment herself.
She has more than 18,000 followers on Twitter and there’s a constant low-level hum of discussion about her on the network. Tens of thousands of tweets mention her every month.
So what do we know for sure about her – and how did she become such a divisive figure? Pauly tweets as @andieiamwhoiam. She lives in Joliet, a city of 150,000 people in Illinois about an hour’s drive from Chicago, and is married to a Joliet police officer, Michael Pauly. Her Twitter bio describes herself as a: “Happy wife. Homeschool mom. Proud police supporter. Paleoconservative. I block beta males & shrieking Godless harridans as matter of course.” Her positions – as vociferously spelled out on Twitter – are mostly consistent with the culturally conservative American right. She defends gun ownership and the police, and criticises President Obama, abortion and the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of her tweets use blunt or vulgar language.
Among her more extreme messages are ones which call people “ferals” and a series of missives that called for the hanging of the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police in Cleveland while playing with a toy gun….
Okay, you may think she’s an extremist nutter, just one example from the many that America breeds so prolifically these days, but should these people be allowed to spread such vitriol for all to read?
…there’s an additional dimension to Pauly’s online activities. Her critics say she’s taken her views way too far – that she has crossed the line to harassment…one woman who spoke to BBC Trending claims that she was fired from her job because of Pauly. Tara Dozier, a single mother who lives in Washington state, says she joined Twitter in late 2015. She befriended some Black Lives Matter activists – on the left of the American political spectrum – which led her to Pauly’s tweets, some of which she re-tweeted.
“She believed that meant that I was stalking and harassing her, because I was re-tweeting her, and she blocked me,” Dozier says.
It was an unremarkable internet spat – until people started calling her bosses at a local chocolate company, asking for her to be sacked. Dozier said that at first, the company’s human resources department sided with her, and she deactivated her Twitter account in hopes of ending the online nastiness.
But the calls continued. In November, the company’s Twitter account was bombarded by naked pictures of Dozier, pictures she says she was tricked into sending to another Twitter user. Not long after that, Dozier was sacked from her job. The company declined to comment about the incident, saying that their policy is not to discuss current or former employees. Although there’s no evidence that Pauly was behind the phone calls to her workplace, Dozier believes that she may have encouraged the campaign, and points to tweets where Pauly offers rewards in the form of Starbucks gift cards to people who post information about her enemies online…
This story continues and can be viewed in full at the link bottom of this page. There is, however, an ‘Editor’s note’ at the end of the item:
Editor’s Note: After this story was published at least one fake social media account was set up in Olivia’s name. The fake account looks almost identical to Olivia’s genuine account and has been used to send abusive and misleading tweets to some of the people who have commented on this article on Twitter.”
The internet is a great tool, but then so is a firearm. Both require sane regulation. Sadly, given that the World Wide Web has ruthlessly exposed our inabilities as human beings to behave towards one another in anything resembling a humane manner, one has to doubt if there’s anyone out there – politician or otherwise – capable of doing so.
Please respond to:
Not that it’ll do you the slightest good.
 “The woman who shows how toxic America’s culture wars have become” BBC, April 12th 2016