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Why We Should All Take Heed Of Rebel's Yell Against Toxic Media

She cried no more, more, more...

16/06/2017 1:43 PM AEST | Updated 16/06/2017 5:25 PM AEST

"I felt I had to take a stand. That I had to stand up to a bully."

And with those words, Aussie actress Rebel Wilson walked triumphantly from court yesterday after a jury unanimously decided that Bauer Media had defamed her in a series of magazine articles branding her a serial liar.

It's a verdict that few -- apart from Rebel, her redoubtable mother, and her legal team -- could have believed possible.

"It's a win for everybody that gets maliciously taken down," Rebel added. "Far too often I feel the tabloid magazines and the journalists that work for them don't abide by professional ethics. The jury has agreed with me... and sent a very, very clear message."

Now, just who does take note of that "very clear" message remains to be seen. Will it change the way tabloid magazines, and their often much worse online counterparts, with their insatiable hunger for click-bait -- change their ways? Their currency is conflict, chaos, misery, mayhem, breakups, breakdowns and ultimately... judgement, seemingly dressed up as "concern".

The idea being, the more someone else is suffering or being humiliated, and we can look at it all in full glorious, close-up colour, the better the rest of us can feel about our own lives.

We can ignore it, and let it go unchecked. Or we could and should, as Rebel suggests and as those six female jurors unanimously did yesterday, take a stand.

Had a bad day at the office? Well at least you didn't get humiliated down at the beach when a paparazzi took a long-lens shot of you in bad light on a "fat day", or wearing something called "granny pants" while you did the shopping, or accused you of being pregnant when all you've done is eat a burger.

Certainly the practice of publishing paparazzi shots and writing words to fit a conveniently miserable agenda, or more often a completely made-up scenario, is something I've witnessed close up with the recent relentless pursuit of my Today Show co-host Karl Stefanovic.

When, oh when, did it all become so toxic?

And it's not just in traditional media that this insatiable desire for shameless voyeurism and, yes, bullying, has been prospering. Just this week on social media we saw the systematic carve-up of two of the country's highest profile women, after both Carrie Bickmore and Mia Freedman made rare errors of judgement.

There's no question Mia overstepped the mark when she divulged what should have remained private details of her behind-the-scenes interaction with author Roxanne Gay. Mia quickly admitted that she got it wrong, should have known better and her subsequent heartfelt apologies made that utterly clear.

But the level of vitriol and outright hate directed at her -- and Carrie, over the timing of the release of her #BeaniesForBrainCancer this week -- has been nothing but vicious and out of all proportion to the "crimes" each of them committed.

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Sadly, though, the all-in hatefest that ensued on social media was symptomatic of the toxic ground that all too often rules some online forums these days.

Both Mia and Carrie have a long history of being wonderful champions for change, and I just hope that what happened this week doesn't discourage either of from continuing on that course.

So why have we allowed it to come to this?

Is it, as one comment I saw this week suggested, "ingrained in the female psyche from a young age to pull each other down and compete"?

It should be noted that these magazines, online gossip sites, and comment sections on social media platforms are overwhelmingly the domain of us women. We consume, we engage with their toxic negativity, and they prosper with more of the same.

The choice is ours.

We can ignore it, and let it go unchecked. Or we could and should, as Rebel suggests and as those six female jurors unanimously did yesterday, take a stand.

I know what I'd prefer.

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