Katie Couric, Global Anchor of Yahoo News and co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), has been in broadcast journalism for 37 years. She was the first solo female primetime news anchor when she took over CBS Evening News. She is very well respected in her field and yet, even Katie is not impervious to Internet trolls. While appearing on Anna Faris’ Anna Faris is Unqualified podcast, Katie admitted that the online insults rattle her every time.
No matter how many fans you have, you’re always going to have haters — and Katie Couric struggles with online trolls just like any other celebrity.
“Honestly, I never get used to it,” she admitted. “[The other day] I was going through my Facebook mentions because I had posted this profile of this darling girl named Abby Shapiro who died of osteosarcoma when she was just 16 years old. … I posted this tribute to her because I was doing that in the days leading up to our [Stand Up to Cancer] event and I read this comment and some guy said: ‘Katie, I watched your interview with Tom Hanks. Clearly you’re over-tanning — your skin looks like a monkey scrotum.’ “
Recalled Couric: “I thought, Wow, really? First of all, I thought, Oh gosh, maybe I am over-tanning, but then I thought, What motivates someone to be so nasty?”
“I think when you become a public figure, per se, people completely lose sight that you’re a real person,” continued the journalist. “It’s this weird kind of objectification, or depersonalization, and when I read these mean comments it’s like a knife in my heart.”
“I think part of the embarrassment is the collective shaming you feel when other people are reading these awful comments — it feels like a schoolyard taunt that everybody is listening to and they’re all looking at you and embarrassing you and shaming you,” she said.
Katie was also able to quote a letter she was sent back in the early 90s in which a man told her her hair looked like “a ski slope for an adventurous sparrow.” I wonder if any of us could quote a compliment verbatim that we were given in the early 90s? Not to mention whatever they said is usually taken at face value. Like when Katie said her first reaction to the tanning comment was, “Oh gosh, maybe I am over-tanning.” Katie said she tries to rationalize why people feel the need to make those sorts of comments. I think we all do this, create a backstory for our tormentors, hypothesizing what pain they must be suffering to be so cruel. I’m not sure it helps, though. When I go to bed that night their slight is on my mind, not their tortured soul.
It kind of goes hand-in-hand with the last part of the excerpt. When an insult is thrown on the Internet, your shame is on a global stage – like being in the stockades. It’s funny, however, but when someone says something nice, that seems like such a personal moment between you and the commenter alone.
I’ll bet half of the ugly comments left for Katie are Sarah Palin using pseudonyms (spelled phonetically, of course).
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