As many of us have observed this week, Rush Limbaugh was only the most recognizable troll who turned Robin Williams’ tragic suicide into his own cynical, callous soap box. Predictably enough, the dark, cruel occupiers of Twitter’s anonymous underworld successfully outdid everyone.
After being relentlessly harassed online, Williams’ daughter Zelda announced that she was abandoning her Twitter account — driven away by cold-blooded bastards who relentlessly delivered horrendously offensive tweets into her mentions.
She elaborated via Instagram:
I will be leaving this account for a but while I heal and decide if I’ll be deleting it or not. In this difficult time, please try to be respectful of the accounts of myself, my family and my friends. Mining our accounts for photos of dad, or judging me on the number of them is cruel and unnecessary. There are a couple throughout, but the real private moments I shared with him were precious, quiet, and believe it or not, not full of photos or ‘selfies’. I shared him with a world where everyone was taking their photo with him, but I was lucky enough to spend time with him without cameras too. That was more than enough, and I’m grateful for what little time I had. My favorite photos of family are framed in my house, not posted on social media, and they ‘ll remain there. They would’ve wound up on the news or blogs then, and they certainly would now. That’s not what I want for our memories together. Thank you for your respect and understanding in this difficult time. Goodbye. Xo
What specifically precipitated this?
It appears as if in addition to text-based tweets insulting her father, Twitter trolls using the handles @pimpstory and @MrGoosebuster sent photoshopped images of Robin Williams in a morgue with bruises around his neck. According to The Washington Post, “@PimpStory also tweeted ‘look at what he … did to himself because of you’ and called Zelda a ‘heartless b****.'” The “heartless bitch” tweet was re-tweeted by @pimpstory 21 times.
There aren’t words in this or any other language to adequately describe these vicious, nasty, irredeemable human/excrement hybrids. If there’s any consolation, Twitter suspended both accounts, but you can bet they’ll be back with different anonymous handles, spreading cruelty from behind the cowardly safety of their pseudonyms. We can only hope that Twitter and other social media sites will up their game and take trolls and abusers more seriously. If I had my druthers, I would ban anonymous handles entirely, but perhaps it’s a bridge too far to expect internet users to show the courage of their convictions and be held personally accountable for what they write.
As I’ve written before, the loss of Robin Williams seems to be resonating not unlike the deaths of John Lennon or JFK. Even if he wasn’t so kind, accessible, talented, generous and endlessly entertaining (after re-watching Good Will Hunting last night, I couldn’t help but to wonder why he didn’t have a stack of Oscar statues to his name), and even if he hadn’t died under the shadow of depression and addiction, the behavior exhibited by too many social media trolls, whether they pursued his family or not, is inexcusable and in a perfect world the continued permissiveness of the social media companies ought to be re-examined.
Once again, we can only hope that for the guilty the Karma is appropriately nasty.