As a female academic who is outspoken on social media, the wife of an Australian TV personality and a Muslim, Susan Carland is the archetypal target for Internet trolls. So naturally, Carland gets her fair share of sexist, racist and Islamophobic tweets:
"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," she wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Carland tried blocking and muting the trolls. She tried ignoring them and tweeting back. But then, she had another idea: she would draw attention to their hateful trolling by donating to a good cause in their honor.
Carland has been donating $1 to Unicef for every troll-y tweet for a few months now and has so far raised more than $1,000. Her strategy has taken off—others have pledged to donate, or even match her donations.
More than anything, though, Carland wrote, her stunt is intended to keep trolls from defining her.
"While these trolls are desperate to tell me what I believe in order to wedge me into their own miserable world-view, I am not defined or confined by that," she wrote. "My response to them is not an act of angry defiance but a calm reaction that is deeply rooted in who I am and the faith that defines me."