Kirsty Gilmour, a British badminton player, shares her experiences of social media abuse she has been subjected to recently.
Warning: The following text contains potentially offensive language
Accusations of belonging to a mafia, derogatory names and insults, all stemming from a lost badminton game. This is the reality of being a professional sportswoman, and it can often be distressing.
The experience of receiving abusive messages online is disheartening, to say the least. While sometimes it can be shrugged off, there are moments when these messages can significantly dampen your day.
Responding to these harassers doesn’t help in any way. Though it can be hard to resist the urge to retaliate with equally harsh words, the practical approach is to block and report the offending accounts, notify the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and move on.
The BWF takes these matters very seriously, even going so far as to trace the IP addresses of threatening messages. However, the reaction can only occur after the harm is done.
Online abuse prevention is still an unsolved issue in our society.
Writing this may not solve the problem outright, but hopefully, it will make potential trolls reconsider their actions and remember the real person on the other side of the screen.
People engage in this behavior, mostly because they’ve lost money on a bet
Imagine dedicating 25 years of your life to training, only to lose the match. The disappointment is immense. And then, opening your phone to find abusive messages is a blow all its own.
The messages are typically quite predictable, starting with a recap of the score, followed by a barrage of insults and derogatory terms.
When caught in a vulnerable moment, these messages can incite deep anger and a desire for retaliation.
The common denominator in these trolls seems to be discontent, boredom, and, generally speaking, being male. Their focus is solely on the score, disregarding the human effort involved in the match. Most likely, they’ve lost a bet due to the match’s outcome, causing their anger.
The absurdity of it all is hard to ignore. Their decision to bet on a match halfway around the world somehow becomes my fault when they lose. However, their poor financial decisions have nothing to do with me.
Could AI potentially provide a solution to this torrent of abuse?
The process trolls undertake to send these messages is baffling. From creating anonymous accounts to crafting their harmful messages, there are multiple opportunities for them to reconsider their actions. Yet they persist.
Their objective is unclear, but it’s likely they’re venting their anger and not expecting a response. Unfortunately, the recipient of this misplaced anger is often my inbox.
Reducing this type of harassment would be very welcome. There are talks about AI technology that could filter out abusive comments in real-time, similar to what was used during the French Open and the Tokyo Olympics. This could protect athletes throughout the year, not just during major events.
Until such solutions are in place, we must continue to block offensive keywords and phrases, build resilience, and dismiss any harmful comments that slip through.
To those trolls who’ve read up to this point, here’s some advice: spend some time outdoors, channel your anger into something productive, like sports, and make better choices. Peace and love.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Online Abuse
What is the main issue Kirsty Gilmour discusses in her writing?
Kirsty Gilmour discusses the issue of online harassment and social media abuse that she has experienced as a professional athlete.
How does Kirsty Gilmour respond to online abuse?
Gilmour suggests that the best course of action is to ignore these comments, report the offending accounts, notify the Badminton World Federation (BWF), and then move on with her activities.
What motivates trolls to engage in online harassment, according to Gilmour?
Gilmour suggests that the majority of online trolls are motivated by disappointment or anger from losing bets on her matches, leading them to vent their frustration through abusive messages.
What is the proposed solution Gilmour mentions for dealing with online harassment?
Gilmour mentions the potential use of AI technology to filter out abusive comments in real time as a possible solution to online harassment.
How does Gilmour suggest online trolls should channel their anger?
Gilmour advises online trolls to channel their anger into something productive, such as sports, and to reconsider their actions before engaging in online harassment.