Musicians Tackle Online Trolling Head-On

The ever-expanding phenomenon of social media most definitely has its pros. It allows us to keep in contact with those that we’d be unlikely to otherwise, it increases voter participation, helping to bring about political change, and even provides creative outlets with the tap of a screen.

However, the epitome of the double edged sword, platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are also infamously damaging. With the 12th-16th of November marking 2018’s Anti-Bullying week, it seems only appropriate to explore artists who have openly campaigned against bullying, looking in particular at what have now come to be known as ‘social media trolls’.

‘A person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the internet’. Wikipedia’s definition of an Internet Troll highlights perfectly, why ‘trolling’ is most definitely a legitimate form of bullying. Since as long as anyone can remember, being in the limelight came with its downfalls. You were always going to be vulnerable to the contempt of the public, but the ease at which anyone can now harass anyone makes the spotlight a more dangerous place to be than ever.

You were always going to be vulnerable to the contempt of the public, but the ease at which anyone can now harass anyone makes the spotlight a more dangerous place to be than ever.

Image credit: Crack Magazine

It is a relief then, to see so many artists openly hitting back against abuse that they, or others receive. One artist in particular who’s shown no fear when it comes to keyboard warriors is Stormzy. First of all, the ‘Blinded By Your Grace’ singer took no nonsense from haters claiming he was ‘selling out’ by being featured on the Little Mix track ‘Power’,  reminding everyone that they’re the biggest girlband on the planet. As well as this, in May 2018 Stormzy also uploaded a photo of him attempting to learn guitar on Instagram, and appeared to find himself the subject of cynics. To one particular negative comment he responded ‘Georgia love just kindly f*** off if you’re gonna be negativity. This confident calling out of haters is exactly what is necessary in order to reduce any seriously negative impacts they could have.

CHVRCHES’ singer Lauren Mayberry is another artist who has consistently spoken out against trolls, in particular, sexist haters who put the singer under fire for being a vocal feminist. In 2015 the band released a clip for their single ‘Leave A Trace’, which prompted misogynistic comments in relation to the short dress worn by Mayberry in the video. In response, she tweeted “Dear anyone who thinks misogyny isn’t real. It is and this is what it looks like,”, alongside a 4chan thread link. Mayberry is just one out of a shocking number of women in the music industry who face this objectification every day. Movements such as ‘#MeToo’ are helping to shine light on these injustices, but sexism is still very much prominent in today’s culture, particularly amongst those we see in the media.

The recent cruel trolling of Ariana Grande following the tragic overdose of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller perfectly captures how easy people find it to attack a celebrity simply because they can. Perhaps it speaks of the general insecurities within our society, and the need to bring down anyone that we feel is better than us, perhaps there are just truly ‘evil’ people out there. Whatever the case, social media trolling should be treated absolutely as seriously as any other form of bullying. It is equally as damaging, and can be equally as fatal. Yes, we must congratulate artists who are confident enough to speak out against their attackers, but we should also not shame those who don’t. It is absolutely vital that we remember that underneath the bright lights, perfect hair and perfect makeup, is a real person. If you wouldn’t verbally or physically abuse a stranger on the street, don’t fool yourself that it’s acceptable to do so because you can hide behind your username and bio.

Charlotte Bresh

Header image via Danny Clinch at NME