Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: You're why I've joined Team Naz

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Naz Khanjani's charity boxing match was called off because of health concerns. Photo / Guy Coombes
Naz Khanjani's charity boxing match was called off because of health concerns. Photo / Guy Coombes

I won't pretend Naz Khanjani has given us much reason to want to join her team.

There was the hit list of fellow Bachelorettes she wanted to eliminate from The Bachelor NZ. There was the swearing at an audience member in the final episode. There was the lack of discretion about what she did with Jordan.

Despite that, I've decided to join Team Naz and you may be the reason why. If you read this online and think about what rant you'll post in the comments section at the bottom, then you're almost certainly the reason why.

Fair enough if you're surprised I've signed up to the squad. It's true, things between Naz and I didn't get off to a good start. She stormed off on me during a TV interview. She didn't like me much at all. But, I don't hold it against her.

I'd intimated Naz didn't have much public support. It was like the final grain of sand that tipped the scale.

Naz had already dealt with months of being something close to public enemy No.1 , smart-arse comments over parts of her body from high-profile New Zealanders, social media hatred straight into the phone in her pocket, and fielding offers to punch her in the boxing ring on behalf of the women of New Zealand.

The next day Naz was in hospital on an antibiotic drip, with a kidney infection she might've had for a week. She was forced to pull out of a charity boxing match.

Naz posted a picture on Facebook of herself tucking into a plate of hospital food. She looked vulnerable in her standard-issue garment, without her usual makeup.

At last, a reason for us to sympathise.

And yet, 13 minutes after the picture went up, the first hint of a nasty message came in. "FFS" was all it said. Two minutes later, "Good excuse drop nuts". Twenty-six different people liked that one. The nasty comments continued.

I give up on trying to fight online trolls. Nothing we've done has stopped it. This newspaper recently went to the effort of publishing a series about online bullying. Celebrities such as Teuila Blakely have explained to us what it's like to be on the other side of the attack. Politicians have passed legislation in a bid to stop it. And yet, the trolling continued on Naz's Facebook page and countless other websites this week.

It's got so bad, some local and international sites have turned their comments sections off. CNN won't let you rant anymore. Nor will Bloomberg, The Daily Beast, Popular Science, Radio New Zealand or The SpinOff.

Duncan Grieve, the editor and publisher of The SpinOff said part of the reason he turned the comments off was because "they have been getting horrible at times. Seriously bleak and offensive."

And here's the worst bit about what he thinks: "I don't see that changing."

You know what, Duncan? Nor do I.

We've learned to write. We've learned to build aeroplanes. We've learned to send men to the moon and love letters to the people we care about. And yet we can't figure out that writing an offensive message to someone on social media is no different to walking up to them and saying it to their face.

When you go Facebook, it's not like putting a message in a bottle, popping it in the ocean, and wondering if anyone will read it. When you go on Facebook, the person you're writing to will read it.

Naz is not Taylor Swift. She doesn't have a minder filtering her messages. She runs her own Facebook account. She read those messages.

In fact, chances are even Tay Tay will read hers.

That's why I'm on Team Naz. Because, no matter what someone does, they never deserve the whole school picking on them. And when you unload on the comments section online, I will not be reading them.

So go to town.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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