Dani Mathers – a Case of Mistaken Identity and some Lessons Learned
One evening, just under a month ago I noticed a rampage of Twitter notifications. Wondering what tweet had led to so much attention I was shocked to suddenly see my notifications stream full of hateful messages including…. “you deserve to go to jail”, “you’re so plastic” and “you should be arrested”.
Taking a mindful breath, what emerged was that #danimathers was trending on Twitter and my handle @matthews_dani had been mistaken for her. For those who haven’t heard the story, playboy model Dani Mathers body shamed a woman by sharing a naked picture in a LA Fitness gym on snapchat with the caption: “If I can’t see unsee this then you can’t either”. The picture allegedly meant to go to one person went to all her followers. Here’s one of the many articles covering this story.
Since the incident, Dani has been dropped by LA Fitness, fired from her radio station job and is under police investigation. Although a case of mistaken identity and not personal to me I felt the hatred in the online attack and some empathy for Dani. Her unthoughtful action breached a privacy rule, was demeaning and I believe should be punished but the issue has escalated to another level.
We are all human, not perfect and have moments of misjudgment. Think about a time where you’ve sent something to a friend that you’d be mortified if it got sent to everyone in your network. Or a moment when you’ve accidentally hit reply all on an email. We can learn the most from mistakes like these, unfortunately for Dani her moment of misjudgment has been amplified onto a global level.
Due to the online hate she has deleted her social media accounts (maybe why my Twitter handle was picked up!). When is enough, enough? Dani’s actions have led to public humiliation, job loss and police investigation. Shouldn’t this be enough to learn her lesson without online bullying attacks known as ‘online trolls’ who may know nothing about her as a person?
This incident is unfortunately one of many with other recent examples including Sam Frost’s saddening announcement that battles with online trolls has ‘broken her’ , the Republicans hateful chanting towards Hilary Clinton and more recently Olympic Swimmer Mack Horton trolled by Chinese swimmer Sun Yang’s fans. I’ve heard of closer to home examples of teenage bullying on Facebook and online platforms can provide a space to hide behind.
Discussing this over brunch with girlfriends recently it emerged that a lot of this online bullying is from and towards women. As I’ve written about previously, Women Let’s Give Each Other a Break. People’s mental health is severely at risk here, I call for less judgement of others and more compassion. Think how would you respond to the issue if the person being implicated was a close friend or family member? Talking with my aunty we reflected before social media remarks would be in closed community networks. Now they can become global trends. One of the dark sides of social media.
Dani’s public embarrassment does teach some valuable lessons for others:
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face
- Pause before you hit send and do a sense check – if the last person I wanted to see this did how would I feel?
- Before you react to any social abuse, the system can self-sort – I didn’t reply to any of the messages defensively and what emerged was a number of people saying you’ve got the wrong Dani and no more abuse came in.
In summary, I think Dani Mather’s insensitive act deserves punishment but not all the online bullying. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion but to then personally attack someone you don’t know if a whole other level. In light of recent terror attacks I think we need to take perspective and I call for more compassion, especially between females. Interested to hear what others think.