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Listen: Ryan Jespersen, Lynda Steele, J’Lyn Nye are joined by writer Ilan Cooley: The Untold Toll of Online Trolls

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9 minute read

Here is a link to the Ryan Jespersen show where he, along with J’Lyn Nye, Lynda Steele and Todayville contributor Ilan Cooley discuss this topic, the impact it has on them, but more importantly, the impact it has on society as a whole.

Click here to listen to their discussion.

 

photo of Ilan Cooley

Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid traveller, rescue dog mama and advocate of kindness and community.

The Untold Toll of Online Trolls

By Ilan Cooley

(Warning- language)

The concept of mean tweets has become a late-night talk show punchline that comes with a built-in laugh track, but for some Canadian media celebrities, being on the receiving end of social media bullying is no laughing matter.

J’lyn Nye

“It is always a shock to be called a cunt and a big pig,” says award-winning broadcaster J’lyn Nye. As the co-host of a talk show on Edmonton’s 630 CHED radio, her career spans two decades. “I believe whole heartedly that we, as a society, have devolved. We don’t know how to have a respectful debate.”

Lynda in studio with headphones

Lynda Steele

Like Nye, Lynda Steele is a veteran broadcaster. She works as a talk show host at CKNW radio in Vancouver. Both women previously worked in television, and both say they have endured vicious criticism throughout their careers. They believe gender impacts the kinds of attacks they receive from the public. Comments range from criticism about hairstyle, makeup, or clothing choices, to remarks about weight.

“The hateful comments were never directed at the male on air staff, only the women,” says Steele. “We all got our share of the nastiness. The attacks were almost exclusively from other women. I can only assume they have low self-esteem and feel the need to tear other women down to feel better about themselves. Or maybe they’re mentally ill.

In talk radio, it’s the opposite. The haters are older men. I suspect they are misogynists who are incensed that a woman has a platform to offer her opinion for four hours straight every day. It makes them crazy. You try to develop a thick skin about it,” she says. “But sometimes it’s exhausting, frankly.”

Dr. Tami Bereska, a sociology professor at MacEwan University, says celebrities are often in a difficult position because they need to immerse themselves in the social media environment in order to remain popular and maintain a fan base.

“They are especially at risk,” she says. “The anonymity enabled on some social media platforms gives people the courage to say things to others that they would never say in a face-to-face interaction.”

“The worst go right to the lowest hanging fruit,” says Nye. “The cunt comments. I have male co-workers who are called “asshole,” but they don’t get the viscous vitriol the women I know get. I believe they simply can’t handle a strong, successful, opinionated woman.”

Black and white close up of Ryan Jespersen

Ryan Jespersen

630 CHED host Ryan Jespersen says he is often verbally attacked by listeners, mostly online. Like Nye and Steele, it is Jespersen’s job to voice his opinion live on the air, and to discuss current affairs, and news headlines. He says he is more susceptible to negative comments working in radio than when he worked in television. He believes the catalyst is the explosion of social media. “There’s also the anonymity factor.”

Bereska says anonymity can cause people lose sight of their fundamental beliefs and values, and instead act in the same ways they see others acting in that environment. “As more people begin commenting on the same story, post, or tweet, group polarization occurs, wherein comments become more and more extreme; hateful comments become even more hateful, and critics of those comments become even more critical.”

On Twitter, user @JohnnyJesus took aim at Jespersen, saying, “You’re a no name AM radio shit for brains standing up for the most disgusting anti-Alberta government one could ever imagine. Fuck off.”

“I see moronic stuff thrown at me every single day,” says Jespersen. Without accountability for their comments, some people have turned social media platforms into the new bathroom stall smear campaigns.”

Unfortunately, some people go further than name calling. “We called the police and they took it from there,” says Jespersen. “It’s happened on two occasions. You’ve got to take that stuff seriously.”

Nye believes the people who feel the need to attack others on social media are in effect poisoning the well of society. “It’s become a cesspool for trolls and anonymous keyboard jockeys.” She says since being in radio it is the worst she’s ever seen it. “I used to get upset and react, now I realize the person sending the comment has an issue.”

Facebook user Shawn Lipon does not shy away from expressing his opinions on social media, and does not conceal his identity there. He is vocal about his disdain for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and hurls insults at anyone he perceives to be liberal. Lipon says his motives range from a desire to bring about change, to seeking attention, or just being bored. He finds entertainment in triggering people into a debate that “keeps them up all night.”

Lipon says he wants to put his voice into the discussion with the hopes it will bring other people around to his way of thinking. “I want to have my opinion heard publicly,” he says. “To expose incompetence in hopes of changing opinion to that of my own. I think posting is great to voice opinion and have a say. Sometimes there is nowhere else to express opinions.”

Bereska likens the social media landscape to a battlefield, and says since deviance and normality are socially constructed, what we perceive as being acceptable or unacceptable evolves and changes over time, and is affected by larger sociocultural forces.

Nye feels we need to change the way we communicate with each other, but fears we are too far gone. She believes her bosses and managers need to stand up for employees more and adhere to the “no abuse” policy that already exists where she works. She also thinks social media outlets need to take a stronger stance enforcing their codes of conduct. “They aren’t doing a good job right now.”

Steele says the solution starts with parents. “Teach your children to be nice and respectful. Teach them about consequences.”

Jespersen encourages people to speak out. “Hold people accountable.”

Bereska suggests a solution may be possible with the efforts of both individuals and institutions. “The question is whether individuals, groups, and agents of power, such as social media companies themselves, will take a stand against trolling behaviours. Not just in words, but in actions.”

Read more on Todayville Edmonton.

photo of Ilan Cooley

Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid traveller, rescue dog mama and advocate of kindness and community. 

Todayville is an independently-owned digital media company. We specialize in helping community groups, local businesses and organizations tell their story. Our team has years of media and video production experience. Talk to us about advertising, brand journalism stories, opinion pieces, event promotion, or other ideas you have to make our product better. We also own and operate Todayville Red Deer and Todayville Calgary.

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A conversation about Dignity in a Pandemic: Podcast

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October 21, 2020

Edmonton-AB-On Global Dignity Day, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights launches a larger conversation about dignity in collaboration with the community in a new podcast titled, Dignity In a Pandemic.

The podcast theme is ‘no one left behind’. The discussions explore what dignity looks like for vulnerable members in our community and how it has been affected by the pandemic. Our team began gathering stories in March when the pandemic began to take hold of the world. Our first episode features Shima Aisha Robinson, a poet, community organizer, and activist. We talk about Camp Pekiwewin, which is led by Indigenous 2 Spirit women working in solidarity with Black and 2SLGBTQ communities.

Renee Vaugeois, Executive Director of John Humphrey Centre of Peace and Human Rights, adds, “I’m excited for others to hear the new podcast. The episodes uplift local voices with lived experience and name injustices we see during Covid-19 for a call to action. These are real people with tough realities, who imagine futures where human rights are upheld.”

#YEGdignity was first created by members of our Youth Action Project in 2015 where art was used to challenge perceptions of poverty. The campaign launched that year with the public painting of four murals looking at dignity and poverty. Five years later, the project has expanded to include a podcast to give voice to the vulnerable.

Each week over the next three months, JHC will share new episodes told with diverse Edmontonians. This effort is part of JHC’s commitment to building a Human Rights City, where all participate, belong and are included.

Click here to listen to the first in the series of podcasts.

The ​John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights works to advance a culture of peace and human rights through education and community building guided by the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Read more on Todayville.

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RCMP clarify police response to anti-racism demonstration in Red Deer

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From Alberta RCMP 

Alberta RCMP Statement: Police response to anti-racism demonstration

 The Alberta RCMP would like to acknowledge online discussions that have taken place over the past weeks regarding a recent event in Red Deer. Our intent is to clarify our role at this event and to explain how a comment made by one of our officers was taken out of context.

On September 20, an anti-racism demonstration in Red Deer resulted in three assaults taking place.

The first assault occurred while organizers were arriving to set-up for the event. The RCMP were not yet on site at this time but were contacted, and upon arrival spoke to the victim.

The second assault took place during the event. The RCMP did not witness this assault but once police officers became aware of what had happened, they separated the parties, provided assistance to the victim, and identified the suspect. A video of the assault was then posted online with comments that police stood by and did nothing, which is incorrect. To clarify, once again, the police did not witness the incident but once we became aware of it, we took immediate action and an investigation was initiated.

While investigating the second assault, police became aware of a third assault. This incident remains under investigation.

When the September 20 Red Deer demonstration was posted on Twitter, video footage of comments made by S/Sgt. Chris Smiley were highlighted. We must be clear that the comments made by S/Sgt. Chris Smiley were widely misattributed to the Red Deer demonstration. S/Sgt. Smiley’s comments were made on September 10 in relation to events that took place in Ponoka. At both the Red Deer and Ponoka events, RCMP officers were focussed on ensuring the demonstrations could occur in a peaceful manner and addressing issues that interfered with this basic right.

It’s important to reiterate that all Albertans have the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration. The Alberta RCMP is a neutral party and we have a duty to ensure all Albertans’ rights are upheld. In the event of an unlawful act that threatens the physical safety of the demonstrators and the general public, the RCMP will take measured steps to ensure that those who unlawfully interfere with or threaten the safety of any person or property will be held accountable in accordance with the laws of Canada.

If you have a complaint about unlawful behaviour, we ask that you please contact your local detachment. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The Alberta RCMP is proud to be Alberta’s Provincial Police Service and we are proud of our employees who devote their lives to Albertans each and every day. We have worked hard to build trusting, safe relationships with the communities that make Alberta strong. We are committed to being transparent and accountable.

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