Recently I took a photo of two people painting and putting items of clothing on stumps on South Head Road.
One looked up, paintbrush in hand, and smiled. I didn't smile back. That was all the evidence needed to convict me on social media as the person who "destroyed the Stumpies".
I was dubbed "a lady who obviously doesn't like us", because I pulled up to take a photo and didn't smile. Coincidentally, the Stumpies were removed that day so, obviously, "the lady in the 4WD" was responsible. My understanding is council workers were seen taking the Stumpies down.
Since that day, keyboard warriors have demanded I be named and shamed and my number plate recorded. I have been called a "life hater", a "sick and toxic person" and likened, with the council workers, to a fan of Israel Folau (still drawing a blank!).
I have not touched the Stumpies or complained to the council about them. Clearly others have. Whilst it hurts to know some can be so mean, it is no surprise. We live in a time of cyberbullying. I have written this anonymously - to avoid online trolls.
If I can feel vulnerable I will be recognised at the school bus stop, as an unknown lady without a public social profile, how awful must it be for young victims of cyberbullying whose profiles are known. According to the AFP factsheet on cyberbullying, it is often 24/7.
We need to show respect, online and in the real world. Cyberbullying is never acceptable.
The photo was intended only for my husband to continue our conversation about public art. It showed the Stumpies people are retirees and not teenagers with spray cans. Had it been the latter, would it be considered vandalism or a public art? That was my question and reason for the photo.
Without community consensus, the "carers" of the Stumpies are mere vandals with a Facebook page. If, through the right channels, the Stumpies are voted to stay, I ask the "carers" please paint the clothes on instead of using clothing that litters our roadside.
Personally, I'd prefer to see kids with spray cans commissioned to make the stumps colourful celebrations of something meaningful, such as positive words and phrases to counteract a culture of cyberbullying.
From the lady driving a 4WD who did not vandalise an existing act of vandalism
(Name and address supplied)