Posted on January 5, 2018 by staff

There’s no place for Twitter trolls


I love Christmas and New Year, probably because I do everything to excess.

What’s not to like about eating too much, spending quality time with your family, watching lots of films and sports on the TV, going for long walks and getting a regular fix of social media?

The only part I regret is the social media bit. I used to love going on Twitter because it made me laugh but now it just makes me despair.

People – often hiding behind a cloak of anonymity – can be so nasty when they’ve got a platform to share their thoughts to the world.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying people can’t give some constructive criticism and honestly held opinions but some of the personal stuff is indefensible and extremely hurtful.

I’ll give you an example. I’m a sports fan and I was gripped by the darts as debutant Rob Cross sealed the PDC World Championship title by beating 16-time champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in his final appearance.

I don’t know Taylor so I can’t comment on what type of person he is but as a darts player he’s a true legend of the game – evidenced by the emotional response the crowd gave him at the Ally Pally as the curtain came down on his career.

Then I looked at some of the comments on Twitter and they were disgusting, derogatory and, on occasions, even defamatory.

At one point in the final ‘The Power’ was ‘caught on camera’ giving a crowd member ‘the finger’. Apparently the gesture was meant as a joke to a friend of Taylor’s in the crowd but if you believed the so-called ‘keyboard warriors’ he should have been locked up for the rest of his life.

Sometimes people cause offence through ignorance rather than malice. Ladbrokes posted a photo of TV presenter Dave Clark in December and the caption: “Dave Clark looks like he’s caught the whiff of something nasty and wants to murder the person that caused it.”

The tweet would have gone largely unnoticed but for the fact that the brilliant and dignified Clark has Parkinson’s and responded by tweeting: “That’ll be the chronic degenerative neurological condition that will eventually rob me of the ability to walk, talk and smile @Ladbrokes #parkinsons”.

The person who tweeted the ‘joke’ had no idea the host had the illness and nor did I. Ladbrokes is a massive organisation and apologised, pledging to pay £10,000 to the charity fighting the debilitating condition.

The problem is individuals who post nasty messages on social media seem to be acting with impunity and the vicious circle that is Twitter means that the nastier posts seem to get the most likes.

Another example came during the football match between West Brom and Arsenal. Referee Mike Dean gave a ridiculous late penalty to WBA and the Gunners ended up drawing a game they should have won.

Straight away #MikeDean was trending on Twitter and some of the comments were so personal to be completely unprintable.

Phil Taylor and Mike Dean are prominent sports stars but everybody is a target, including politicians, celebrities and even ‘ordinary’ people. It’s unacceptable.

Over the festive period I sat down with my family to watch a BBC comedy called A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong. We really enjoyed it.

I checked what other people thought on Twitter using the hashtag #ChristmasCarolGoesWrong. Some people must have been looking at a different programme to me!

That’s just a TV programme but social media is a powerful weapon. As a parent, I’m always heartbroken to read stories about children committing suicide because of cyber bullying and the problem is getting worse.

As a kid my late nan told me that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face you shouldn’t say it behind their back and she’s right. If she was alive today she’d be saying if you wouldn’t say something to somebody’s face you shouldn’t post or tweet it on social media.

So what do we need to do? I’d like to see the worst trolls publicly named and shamed.

I’d like to see the media stop cherry picking a couple of angry tweets to create a row out of nothing.

Finally, I like to stop the 45th President of the United States of America using Twitter to boast about the size of his nuclear button.

Can’t we all start 2018 by being a bit nicer?