Why did you first join Twitter?
I actually got on Twitter so I could live tweet ABC’s Q&A show and my love for Q&A and tweeting on Monday nights has only grown since. It’s still one of the highlights of the week for me. My husband knows not to talk to me when Q&A is on!
Do you think you come across/behave differently or the same online and offline?
Most likely yes – to those who know me well, I am relatively predictable.
In my first few years on Twitter, I tended to be more serious and more recently, I have unleashed my “witty” (not my words) sense of humour and am more light hearted.
Twitter’s 140 character limitation poses a challenge when one tries to engage in an otherwise complicated and emotive debate.
I’ve seen some of the comments you get on Twitter. How has harassment shaped your interactions online?
Social media offered me an opportunity to speak directly to the masses, bypassing the media and any potential sensationalizing or editorializing of my views.
Speaking out as an Australian Muslim woman does come with a high personal cost however, as I suddenly discovered. The months of cyber bullying that I endured were incredibly harrowing – the impact extending to my family, friends and my work. I suffered from prolonged anxiety that manifested itself in several physical illnesses that lasted approximately 6 weeks. It had a disabling effect on my life.
Throughout it all, you remain vocal and strong online. Why? What keeps you going?
I can see that I am helping make incremental changes to people’s hearts and minds.
Any advice for others who are wanting to stay true to themselves online?
‘Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.’ People value authenticity so stay true to yourself and your values.
I had to keep my questions with Mariam brief, but she has spoken about cyberbulling in other forums, including in a post last year on her blog, “Death threats in the virtual world meant I had to worry about my safety in the real one“.
Be part of the project!
Share your experiences with us – we’re always looking for more people to talk to about who they are online. There is no story too big or too small!