UPDATE: Watch Cyberhate on ABC iView now.
I have been a tad quiet on my blog lately as I’ve spent much of my time in the past 10 months or so helping to get the show Cyberhate off the ground, co-writing it, and working on the filming and editing with our team. I’m proud to be co-executive producer and co-writer of this series, as well as host, produced in partnership with The Full Box Productions and the ABC.
When I was approached by the Full Box, who I worked with on Tough Nuts: Australia’s Hardest Criminals for CI, to see what kind of show I wanted to make, it was Cyberhate. I’ve spoken out about the issue of online abuse, written about it in my handbook Speaking Out, and spoken at schools about cyberbullying over the past few years, and during that time I’ve become familiar with many of the shocking stories as well as the many of the unhelpful myths around the subject – online abuse is ‘not real life’, ‘it’s just some bad words’, etc. I wanted a program that examined the different kinds of abuse experienced today and the impacts it has our lives, our mental health and democracy itself. I wanted to look at the subject from multiple angles, from legal and scientific perspectives, and from the viewpoints of people of different backgrounds, genders, ages and political views, hopefully encouraging a more nuanced, evidence-based public discussion about an issue that tends to garner a lot of automatic, knee-jerk reactions.
This issue is relatively new. It’s easy to forget that Facebook didn’t even exist until 2004, and Twitter was created in 2006. Many of us grew up in a time before mobile phones, let alone Snapchat. A lot of common ideas about what’s happening online haven’t caught up with the lived realities.
While perpetrators abuse others, often in targeted attacks, we’re still told to ‘just switch off’, as if our lives aren’t totally integrated with digital technology today. As if our workplaces don’t use technology. As if we can somehow avoid text messages, or email. Or having a public presence online. As if those being abused have less of a right to participate in public life than their abusers.
I’m pleased today to find this five star review of Cyberhate with Tara Moss as pick of the week in The Age and Sun Herald, described as ‘Thoughtful and provocative’ and ‘essential viewing’:
‘A ferocious ambassador for human rights, Tara Moss wastes no time in debunking the sentiment behind the playground chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Her opening statement makes clear that real people write the real words that impact on real people on the other side of the computer screen.
Unlike Ian Thorpe, whose two-part series, Bullied, starts an hour earlier on the ABC’s flagship channel, Moss has a personal connection to her subject. She reads aloud some of the sexually violent abuse she received on Twitter after a 2014 appearance on Q&A made in the wake of the launch of her memoir, The Fictional Woman. It was in that book that she revealed that she was a survivor of rape.
Wearing her journalist’s hat, and perhaps that of her other alter ego as a crime novelist, Moss is able to detach herself from her painful experiences, at least while the camera is rolling, and drive this intelligent exploration of the issue.’
Cyberhate airs on ABC iView from March 14, and airs on ABC2 on March 15 at 9:30pm. Some information for teachers can be found below, from the ATOM Study Guide for Cyberhate:
We can’t leave the internet to the bullies.
* Cyberbullying can be a crime. Learn more about your rights at LawStuff.
* Children who are bullied or find their privacy attacked or private images shared online without their consent can report that to the police, or report to the E Safety Commission.
* If the online abuse you are receiving is linked to domestic abuse or abuse from a former or current partner, you can contact 1800 RESPECT.
* If the abuse you are receiving is related to sex, gender and sexual attraction, such as being attracted to the same sex or being a transgender person, and you are experiencing that abuse, or a family member, friend, supporter, worker or person you are working with are receiving that abuse, QLife is a national telephone and counselling service that operates from 3 pm until midnight, seven days a week. You can visit their website at: https://qlife.org.au/ or phone 1800 184 527
* If you or someone you know if experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can contact the Suicide Call Back Service.