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#AshleyVanPevenage Puts a Human Face to #OnlineCruelty Victims

I find it shocking and disheartening just how easily otherwise innocuous online content can become a magnet for abuse. Anonymity (or even just the shield of a screen) has given rise to a society in which some people are perfectly happy to say awful things about others without really knowing anything about them. You've heard of a 'knee-jerk reaction', and this is 'knee-jerk judgement'.

Ashley VanPevenage was, sadly, the victim of such a phenomenon earlier this year. Following an allergic reaction to an acne treatment product which contained benzoyl peroxide, she sought help from a friend who also happened to be a make-up artist to cover up the exacerbated condition. Said friend then posted the before and after on Instagram, simply to show people how successful it had been. Happy ending, right? Wrong, get ready to board the rage train.
A photo posted by @makeupbydreigh on
About a month later, the photo was picked up by a random Twitter user, who posted it whilst seemingly having no idea about the context, affixing the caption - 'I don't understand how people can do this and I can't figure out how to conceal a single pimple on my face'. Before long 'parody' and 'joke' accounts were retweeting the image left, right and centre. The things they were saying were fairly unpleasant but it's when the comments starting rolling in that things started getting really, really nasty, with people openly mocking and deriding VanPevenage for her appearance whilst having absolutely no idea who she was.

Some time later she happened upon an image of her own face on Instagram and the penny dropped. She was, understandably, very upset, but now she's gone online and addressed the issue directly. In a YouTube video, she reads out some of the worst comments and relays that the whole situation dealt her confidence a severe body-blow, as well as sending her into a depressive state. She goes on to talk about the fact that it's easy to forget sometimes that whatever image or video you might be commenting on, there's a human being on the other end, one who you don't know anything about.

She could have very easily gone on the offensive, challenging the unacceptable behaviour of the commenters with more vitriol, but instead she used the video to spread a more important message about the dangers of posting without thinking. Happily, the video has taken off almost to the same extent as the original image, having been viewed almost 900,000 times since it went live on October 6th and it's being broadcast by news sites far more widely than the image ever was. Sometimes, in situations like these, a positive message does emerge, just a shame that most of the time it doesn't.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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#AshleyVanPevenage Puts a Human Face to #OnlineCruelty Victims Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, October 18, 2015 Rating: 5

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