The anonymity of the internet has given too many cowards false bravado. Shielded by a computer screen and miles of distance, it’s easy for individuals to nitpick and spout anger at others they do not understand or may be jealous of.
This, of course, is a form of cyber-bullying, one of the unfortunate side effects of the technological age.
When assaulted by hateful comments, one can either get mad, ignore the statement, or respond in a kind manner (which ends up getting exhausting). OR, they can do what an inspirational Muslim woman is doing, and turn the hostility of Internet trolls into a “force for good” – one hate-filled tweet at a time.
As HuffPost reports, Dr. Susan Carland is an Australian academic and well-known figure in the country’s Muslim community. An unapologetic Muslim woman, says she has become all too accustomed to the “stream of toxicity” that deluges her Twitter feed on a daily basis.
She wrote in an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald:
“I regularly get tweets and Facebook messages from the brave freedom-fighters behind determinedly anonymous accounts telling me that, as a Muslim woman, I love oppression, murder, war and sexism. Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time.”
“I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way.”
At first, the brave activist tried to deal with the trolls by kindly engaging with them, blocking them, or simply ignoring them. But as a believer of Islam, none of the methods felt right.
“None of them felt like I was embodying the Koranic injunction of driving off darkness with light,” she wrote in the op-ed. “I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way.”
That’s why Carland decided to do something incredibly unique: For every hate-filled tweet she received, she would donate one Australian dollar to UNICEF.
While her ‘haters’ weren’t too pleased, the ingenious method of dealing with cyber criticism quickly went viral in a very positive way.
Carland said she’s been “overwhelmed” by the outpouring of support.
She shared with the Morning Herald her specific reason for supporting the charity:
“I particularly liked the idea of giving to UNICEF, as so often they were assisting children who were in horrific situations that were the direct outcome of hate — war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence. These children seemed like the natural recipients for the antidote to hate,” she said.
This week, both the American and Australian chapters of UNICEF took to Twitter to thank her.
Dr. Carland teaches at Melbourne’s Monash University and is married to talk-show host Waleed Aly. This isn’t the first time she’s been featured via mainstream. In 2009, Susan was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.
While a large following is pleased and inspired by her method of dealing with trolls, it hasn’t actually worked, according to Carland. She told The Morning Herald that the haters haven’t been silenced, and, in fact, have even criticized her choice of charity.
According to her, some haters just “can’t help themselves.”
You cannot control others, but you can control how you respond to situations. She is embodying this principle in a brilliant and beautiful way.
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