I just watched Charlotte Dawson being interviewed on 60 Minutes. It was a truly bizarre experience, and for many reasons (only some of which I can list here).
I know a lot of people think that her apparent attempt to kill herself was all just a cynical, calculating ploy to get heaps of publicity for her book. But she did appear to be genuinely emotionally exhausted. And even if there were subconscious motivations of this kind she seemed to sincerely believe what she was saying.
I felt sorry for this woman, and not just because of the emotional roller coaster she's obviously been on. It was also sad that she seemed not to have the slightest clue about how vigorously she'd fanned the flames engulfing her -- not only in her recent public pronouncements, but also by doing the bloody interview (and so soon after her emotional meltdown).
There was mention of her depression. Obviously, that wouldn't have helped matters. And there were other aspects of her mental state that struck me as being more than a bit out of whack.
She clearly conflates the adulation that fame brings with genuine affection, and values it as such. That why she finds it so devastating when she gets the opposite reaction. (I know that a lot of public figures do this. But few take it to anywhere near the same extent.)
Actually, I think people who crave the limelight are all a bit nutty to start with. And those who seek it relentlessly, on a grand scale, and as something in and of itself, are often frighteningly unhinged.
That's why whenever I hear that some celebrity whose face is plastered all over the joint is being stalked by some tragic loser I find it both grimly predictable as well as highly ironic. See, it's like the stalkee (celeb) is often a kind of stalker as well.
But they don't just fixate on one person. They stalk the entire population through various media. So it's hardly surprising that one of those masses winds up being so deeply affected by their desperate campaign of attention-seeking that they finally start stalking back!
Now, with social media, you've got a similar phenomenon at play. But it's intensified by the fact that people don't actually need to leave their living rooms to get their love-hate object's attention. They're also emboldened by the (seeming) anonymity that the net affords.
So they become trolls instead. And a lot of their trolling is aimed at those who could reasonably be called uber-trolls -- Charlotte Dawson being one.
In that context 60 Minutes just engaged in a bit of troll feeding itself. By interviewing Dawson about her ordeal they gave her the attention she desperately craves. They also gave her an opportunity to condemn, and thereby feed, her trolls all over again. Hell, they engaged in some of it themselves, using strong language to condemn the haters. (Bullies, sure. But "thugs"?)
The whole exercize has ensured that still more venom will be directed online at Dawson, surely not a helpful outcome. (It reminds me of the interview Matthew Newton did with ACA after his stint in hospital. He relapsed pretty soon after that and he seems to be in a worse state then ever.)
Don't know what will happen next in Charlotte Dawson's adventure in the troll-eat-troll world of Twitter -- and beyond. But it won't be pretty, that's for sure.