Maybe some of the columns in today's paper will make you a little angry. Maybe you'll just harrumph and turn the page. Maybe you'll slam your teacup down and get up for a brisk walk around the couch. But, if your preferred method of releasing frustration is to take it out on us online, you better fill your boots.

Online trolling is about to become illegal.

For the benefit of the less-tech savvy folk, trolling is defined by the Urban Dictionary as "being a prick on the internet because you can".

But good news. Parliament is days away from putting a ban on this online intimidation. So, to draw attention to the line and the sand and the drawing of said line in the sand, a few MPs this week read out to a camera some choice "mean tweets" they'd received.


Someone brave enough to say it on Twitter but not to her face sent Jacinda Ardern this one: "They tell me that in the horse race it's neck and neck between Sarah Jessica Parker and Jacinda Ardern." Geddit? Jacinda's got prominent teeth.

Another Twitter user thought Peter Dunne needed to be comforted with: "It must be hard having the worst hair in every room you're in."

And just to make sure JC knew her place, a Twitter fiend observed: "Judith Collins showing piss-poor judgement again I see. You never fail to disappoint."

The often-anonymous people sending those messages should be a little embarrassed. Really, what were they hoping to achieve by telling Gareth Hughes (actual Tweet) he looks like a stoned 15-year-old?

But, as unkind as those messages are, I still felt a little uncomfortable watching the video of smiling MPs reading out tweets over a soundtrack of peppy, joyous music. I'm not sure that really conveys the true depths of cyber bullying.

This law isn't about stopping Hamish Mack from reminding Winston Peters he's a loathsome old reptile (actual Tweet). It's about stopping something like the Roast Busters from happening again. In the end, those boys never faced any consequences for doing what they did to drunk, underage girls and then boasting about it online.

This law is about stopping what happened to two women I met a couple of years back.

One night, Karen knocked back a few drinks. She was pretty cross at her erstwhile friend Rachel. Rachel had borrowed $20 and not returned it even though she won $600 at the pokies, Jade and Dion told Karen all about it. Karen called Rachel and left a pretty amazing message on her cell phone. Only, the number didn't belong to Rachel anymore.


The new owner of the number listened to the 54 seconds of escalating anger and wanted to share the pleasure of doing that, so uploaded the entire thing on to YouTube. That might've been fine if Karen hadn't revealed very personal things about Rachel.

I don't know Rachel and you don't know Rachel so the private information means nothing to us. But the video went viral so eventually Rachel's friends and family heard it and learned private things about her.

Rachel couldn't do anything to stop us watching the video. She couldn't take the video down.

Listen: Karen wants her twenty dollars back

Warning: explicit language

In a few days', when the law passes, I hope she will be able to finally get that video taken down. And, hopefully, angry people on social media will think twice before sending mean tweets or Facebook messages or emails or even texts. Hopefully, the internet here in New Zealand will be a friendlier place.

Now, don't let that stop you having a rant in the comments section.

Just don't be mean.

Anyone else feel like I'm setting myself up for trouble by raising this before it's actually law?

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