I'm not going to comment on my feelings about that, though anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I did not exactly rent my clothes and tear my hair in lamentation.
I am aware that many of my fellow Fairfax columnists and other journos are dismayed at the precedent set by his
Well, I respectfully disagree.
I am a freelance writer, but write for Fairfax and other publications on a regular basis, and appear weekly on Channel 7. When I am interacting with people on social media, I represent myself, but I also, by proxy, represent the organisations that employ me.
These organisations choose to use my words and my image. They choose to use my 'brand'*. And so if my brand becomes something that they feel is discordant with their own brand, then I would expect my services to be terminated.
In other words, if I go around telling people to fuck off, if I go around hurling thinly veiled racial insults, if I am rude and disrespectful in my dealings with my readers, I would expect my brand to be compromised, and I would expect to make myself unemployable.
The thing is, every journalist and columnist in the world has experienced dissent and trolling. In the past month I've been accused of child bullying (because I criticized Bindi Irwin for telling girls how to dress), of being part of the Zionist Genocide Plot (because I expressed the view that posting images of dead children is disrespectful to grieving families), and of demonizing fathers (because I wrote a piece about a new campaign to highlight incest using Disney caricatures). Oh, and someone called me a zombie. I'm still not exactly sure why.
When I received these helpful pieces of feedback, there was just one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to tell those moronic correspondents to fuck the hell off.
But you know what? I didn't. Because a) it is isn't helpful, and it's not going to change their minds; b) I don't wish to lower myself to their level; and c) it's just rude. People are entitled to their opinions, even if those opinions are different to mine. And being rude to someone who is rude to me isn't going to help the situation one iota.
So in each and every case, I wrote the same message: "Thank you for your considered response to my opinion piece."
And if the person continued to abuse me, I used a very powerful little tool. I pressed 'block' and 'delete', and they were gone for my life.
I am far from perfect. I have allowed myself to engage in endless debates with people online when I really should have just exited quickly and stopped wasting my time. But I do try very hard to retain humour and courtesy. Because if we can't do that, then the horrible conflicts overseas that are not the responsibility of any person in this country are creeping into our own lives, and that would simply add to the tragedy.
*Yes, it's a wanky term, but you get my point..