Australian academic Susan Carland has been on the receiving end of an endless barrage of voracious hate tweets for one solitary reason: She's Muslim.
Susan, a Social Sciences lecturer at Monasch University, recently wrote about her experience receiving a constant stream of "toxicity" on her Twitter and Facebook feeds in The Sydney Morning Herald. The abuse she has received from online trolls ranged from negative comments about her beliefs -- "anonymous accounts telling me that, as a Muslim woman, I love oppression, murder, war, and sexism" -- to style tips and thoughts on how she must behave.
Susan wrote that this made her feel like "just a blank canvas onto which they can project their own prejudices and fantasies about Muslims" and that her attempts to engage some of the anonymous sources of these comments in a thoughtful debate "achieved nothing."
"Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time," wrote Carland.
"As I browsed some of their Twitter timelines, I noticed just how many of the tweets they sent out were full of rage, scattered at any recipient they could find. It seemed that as people so full of darkness, they could only see darkness in others."
Rather than fall into the rabbit hole of internet spats or disappearing from social media altogether, Susan decided to take all of the lemons thrown at her and make some sweet lemonade, so to speak.
Declaring her intention to follow a Koran philosophy to "repel evil with what is better," Susan decided to donate $1 for every hateful tweet she received on her feed, and after several months, she's now reached the $1,000 mark.
Which ... is terrible because it means that she has tallied up 1,000 hurtful tweets flung at her over this time period. But at the same time, Susan Carland has made something beneficial of the blind hatred that lurks in her life.
"Their hate doesn't define me; my beliefs do. And so what my response should be is clear," Susan wrote.