A recent article in the National Post reminded me how cruel the online world can be.
I understand that sports fans get passionate, that they are extremely invested in how their team is doing and all that jazz (I actually don’t really get this, sports have never been my thing), but does sending a player’s wife numerous death threats really seem like a reasonable response to a team’s loss? This is exactly what happened when the Maple Leafs hockey team lost game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013.
April Reimer, wife of Maples Leafs goalie James Reimer, received over 300 death threats via Twitter after the loss. Among the threats, Remier also received disturbing and violent messages including one that suggested that she should stab her husband in the heart as he slept.
“What was I doing wrong? All I did was have an account.”
Reimer isn’t the only family member of an athlete who has been the target of cyberbullying. She referred to ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling playing hardball with trolls who sent violent, sexual responses directed at his daughter after he posted a proud dad tweet congratulating her on her acceptance to a college.
After Schilling took action, many of the trolls lost their jobs or got kicked off their athletic teams.
“There are consequences,” said Reimer. “It’s not wrong to have an account. It’s how you use it.”
Reimer is working to stop cyberbullying. She is promoting “Sweet Tweet”. This campaign, in partnership with the Canadian Safe School Network, was created to challenge people to spread positive messages through online social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Reimer rightly states,
“You have a voice and a choice. You can build people up or tear them down.”
I think that this is a great campaign. I think the anonymity online gives people a false sense of bravado – they think they can say anything and get away with it. How did we get to this point?