There is a growing culture of abuse in this country, we all sadly know this from personal experience no doubt, but I am getting increasingly concerned with the instant and seemingly punishment-free methods using Twitter that seems to be escalating the frequency and intensity directed towards individuals who simply do not deserve it.
Now I am a massive Twitter fan – having been on it for just over a year I have been exposed to a lot of great people and stuff (I am more of a reader rather than a tweeter). There are so many uses of it, that I think there is a little bit of Twitter for everyone in some form or another. Sadly, as with the society we live it, it is being populated with complete and utter morons. We know they exist, we all went to school with them and have probably evolved away from them as we get older with a bit of luck. But they are still there, they seem to be coalescing and multiplying and getting online with phones that are a lot smarter than they are.
One aspect of Twitter I like is the ability to follow the odd famous people: in my case the ones who’s views I respect, jokes I appreciate and talents I admire. I am not a stalker by any means, but just enjoy the odd 140-character output they offer. Now with fame comes the inevitable situation of being disliked, that’s just life, you can’t be liked by everyone. However, I find it deeply worrying that people think that they can openly abuse those in the spotlight with offensive language, racism, homophobia and similar hate-filled tweets and think it’s OK to do so. There is the argument that if you don’t want to receive it then simply get off Twitter. Free speech and all that too; but why should they have to put up with it ? They shouldn’t. The true and appreciated aims of their tweets towards their intended audience is over-shadowed by such trolling incidents.
Yesterday was the football match known locally as the Steel City Derby. A game that always brings out the animalistic, tribal instincts in many a Sheffield supporter of both persuasions. Most of it does remain innocent enough, but my walk though Hillsborough both to and from the game illustrated how it can turn nasty, both verbal and physical. This spilled over onto Twitter last night, when one of the United players, an 18-year-old lad called Harry Maguire, was abused by a few Wednesday ‘fans’, the most notable from one guy with a direct message of abuse (that included calling him a c*nt). Clearly still fired up by the game, he replied with a mild taunt along the lines of “who are you? someone watching from the stands?”. Quite a good put down really. It didn’t go down well and more jumped on the bandwagon. He received a lot more as a result, and I also think that Harry’s a Wednesday fan too just to make it even more ridiculous.
End result: Harry has left twitter, either by his own volition at being sick of the abuse, or advised/instructed to by the club to avoid unnecessary attention. Either way, a great lad who was quite interacting with his fans is no longer there. The most worrying aspect of all this: the guy who hurled the abuse that kicked all this off appears to be an employee of Sheffield Wednesday! If true, I hope that they show some professionalism and show him the door as soon as possible. His account has disappeared too.
Should people have to put up with abuse to their face? No. Should they have to put up with it on social media sites, just because they are famous? No. Is there ever going to be a solution to this? Doubt it. I just hope that the efforts of those like Stan Collymore, who is actively reporting all those who racially abuse him (with some pending convictions as a result), will start to quell the morons that do this. We can only hope as I am not sure this is going away any time soon.
Damn gene pool.