Madeleine McCann: An Unwitting Bystander At Brenda Leyland’s Funeral
MADELEINE McCann: a look at the missing child in the news media, with Brenda Leyland:
In the Times, Carole Midgley is talking about trolls:
Who could look at the photo of Brenda Leyland with her handsome son, his arm curled protectively around her shoulders, and feel anything but desperately sad? We don’t yet know how or why Ms Leyland died in that room in the Marriott hotel, Leicestershire, but we know a man has lost his mother and we know how history will remember her: as the so-called “troll” accused of tweeting thousands of hate-filled messages about the grieving parents of Madeleine McCann…
It’s a terrible obituary. But Mrs Leyland was not a rarity:
A YouGov poll found that 2 per cent of the public admit to having sent abusive messages to strangers. Some lead seemingly normal, fulfilled lives. Jamie Bartlett, author of The Dark Net, reveals that among the online abusers he has interviewed were a successful, fiftysomething recruitment consultant and a music specialist. He knows of another who is a serving police officer.
So-called trolls hold down good jobs.
And what about you?
…once, after receiving a particularly poisonous pen letter that shook me up, I phoned the author (amazingly, the number was on the letterhead) to ask why. Never have I heard anger deflate so quickly or such incredulous gratitude that I had “taken the time to call. I know how busy you must be”. The person was going through a bad time and “letting off steam”. They were sorry.
Now magazine looks at Katie Hopkins, an entertaining opinion baiter:
Lord Alan Sugar attacks Katie Hopkins, saying soon ‘she’ll be of no interest to anyone’
A bit like an Amstrad E-m@iler, then.
In the Leicester Mercury, readers are asked “Why do people troll?”
Don’t bother answering. The question is rhetorical.
Professor Brian Brown of De Montfort University discusses the issue after McCann abuse and Brenda Leyland death
“It seems a lot of people who troll take great pleasure in manipulating others and have a very well developed sense of their own importance. But often, in reality, they are quite vulnerable individuals themselves, probably very isolated who don’t have much positive interaction with people in the real world, and who spend most of their time online. The cloak of anonymity afforded by the internet can be quite empowering for these people. Real life is difficult – finding a good job and keeping it is hard; raising a family is hard; relationships are difficult, especially romantic ones that quite often don’t go the way we would want…
“We can see this extreme behaviour in other forums, for example, when someone enters a football stadium or wrestling arena, the rules of engagement are different, and some of the interaction between fans, and performers, can be viewed as extremely abusive…
“As far as targeting celebrities, many people feel they are fair game, as does the tabloid media.”
Which brings us back to the Sun’s Ms Hopkins:
“How many more must die before the McCann’s accept that negligence is at the heart of all their grief?” The Sun columnist tweeted to her followers.
We don’t know why Mrs Leyland died. But we do know that her death – and the last months of her life – have given the media something to talk about. Just a armchair detectives have had a field day with the case of ‘Our Maddie’, experts can pontificate on Brenda Leyland and what it says about them…