Aldershot News & Mail : 2020-07-29

13 : 13 : 13


13 NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 2020 tms-aldershote­ditorial@ Letters page, News & Mail, Stoke Mill, Woking Road, Guildford, Surrey GU1 1QA EMAIL: n POST: n PHOTO of the week Matt Strudwick SurreyLive content editor POINTS OF VIEW ‘FEED him to the lions’; ‘I wouldn’t want him as my father’; ‘I feel sorry for his kid’; ‘T***’. Those were just some of the more tame comments that were directed at me online. And my crime? I had a bad two hours at the zoo. SurreyLive, as every other news and media outlet does, publishes honest reviews of attraction­s, restaurant­s and other days out based on that individual’s experience and opinion. Sometimes the experience is not what they were hoping for and we will always be honest about that, as we would when it is a positive experience. It is inevitable that some people will not agree with an opinion piece because it is subjective and a review is based on that one experience. But the level of abuse directed at me by some people was unwarrante­d and unnecessar­ily vile. It shocked me and I have never experience­d it on that level before. Most I was able to brush off, but those that questioned my ability as a father were the ones that hurt the most. And I was just doing my job. I, and our reporters, see it on a daily basis on social media. Abusive and sickening comments, either directed at them or at the people in the articles we write. We welcome feedback and criticism where it is warranted, but there is a line that should not be crossed. Those who write such hateful things are also those who pedal the same argument when challenged – free speech. Free speech does not mean being abusive because you can, while safe behind your computer screen. It needs to stop. It upset my whole family. This kind of cyber playground bullying and tormenting has even led people to kill themselves. People that write nasty comments aimed at those they do not know rarely understand the repercussi­ons and emotional distress they cause their target. I wonder if they would even care if they actually did. The facelessne­ss the internet offers gives them some kind of anonymous empowermen­t and the opportunit­y for thoughtles­s comments. Within the torrent of abuse directed at me came one thoughtful email from a reader, whose kind words will stay with me and have helped me find some stability. She wrote thoughtful­ly and raised some valid points, especially asking why we would print something that could be damaging to a business, especially during these times – comments that I will take on board in the future and can understand. Yes, we will always write honest reviews but we accept that now is a sensitive time for businesses, and can see why a negative review would not sit well as they get back on their feet. We take on board any constructi­ve feedback to what we write. I am a journalist, yes. But I’m also a 35-year-old father, boyfriend, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and grandson. I also grew up in a council house with an absent father, nearly killed myself when I was 17, have lived with depression for 19 years and have self-harmed. We may be living in unpreceden­ted times during a pandemic, but abuse on social media is a virus that also needs eradicatin­g or it will cost more lives. PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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