How social media stops people feeling comfortable in their own skins

Di Cunningham spoke at Norwich City icon Justin Fashanu's induction into the National Football Museu

Di Cunningham spoke at Norwich City icon Justin Fashanu's induction into the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame on Wednesday. Picture: David Cleverdon - Credit: Archant

Abuse on social media is preventing people of any creed, colour or lifestyle from feeling comfortable with who they are.

This is the view of a woman who dedicates her life to fighting for equality and individuality in sport as people take part in a social media boycott to highlight the issue.

Di Cunningham is the founder of LGTBQ+ Norwich City supporters' group Proud Canaries, co-founder of the 3 Lions Pride group and the first female director of the Norfolk Counties Football Association.

She is also a staunch campaigner for the LGTBQ+ community locally and through this has encountered the truly damaging impact social media can have on people, whatever their background.

Like many others, Ms Cunningham is participating in the boycott, which will see people and organisations come of social media for the duration of the weekend.

And while the boycott originates from the world of football, she says the impact of abuse stretches far beyond those involved with the sport.

She said: "I think one thing people underestimate is the fact that when you use a slur against a footballer, demeaning the entire community of the word you are using.

"Earlier this season there were some awful comments made about the Everton player James Rodriguez which was demeaning for the entire trans community - it not just slurring the footballer, it's targeting everyone."

Ms Cunning added that she hoped the boycott would have an impact, sending a message that it is unacceptable to abuse people in any form.

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She said: "Before the days of social media many of the trolls would not have the same platform they do now. You look at the accounts of people who make awful comments and often they won't have many followers at all - but it is still a platform that previously didn't exist.

"These people defend what they say as freedom of speech, but once what they say encroaches on other people's freedoms that's where it should stop.

"As long as there is still racism, transphobia, homophobia and any form of discrimination on social media, nobody will ever be able to feel fully comfortable with who they are."