It is 11.33pm on a Friday evening as I start to type this post.
Being a mother and gaining a little in age, means that most Fridays do not involve a party on the town. I had however made my little plans: a little research into some awesome women, write a few blog posts for my two blogs, write a guest blog post about one of my blogs and if I got time start on another poem. Nothing overly exciting but relaxing and an important bit of down time doing something I love. Tomorrow morning awaits the usual laundry and a class set of books for marking.
Yesterday had been an appalling evening on Twitter. I witnessed CCP go through the following: be sent incredibly violent, sexual, threatening tweets; have to deal with a barrage of “well meaning” tweeters continually suggesting ways in which she should handle the decision; these people ignoring her repetitive tweets not to offer this advice and then her reaction being policed when she swore and told people to fuck off and leave her alone.
I am not a friend of Caroline but she is someone I admire and respect. To watch her online desperately trying to handle all this (I believe close to 2000 tweets that day), to witness her obvious distress and still see a continual stream of people criticising her, piling in with their opinions, was awful. She was bullied. Bullied by apparently well meaning supporters.
To top it off, the usual timeline stalkers came swarming in to offer their sting. In some cases it was disguised as simpering concern but was quite frankly manipulative play. Some of these people will pop up in conversations (even when blocked) saying that they were @’d in or it was retweeted in their timeline when there have been no retweets. They find ways around the blocks (it’s not hard) and stalk the timeline waiting for their opportunity to pounce on their prey when they are most vulnerable.
Ironically, they will hound Caroline and others with continual tweets and spend their evening composing a series of tweets criticising and demonising the person they were accusing of being a bully.
Today, I hopped onto Twitter when I got in from work, for some reason feeling optimistic that it would be a brighter place. How wrong could I have been?
It was not long before I realised my stupidity. CCP had taken the decision to remove herself from Twitter TEMPORARILY not because of the abusive tweets but because of the victim blaming and everyone telling her how to behave. Is it not a disgrace that people weren’t just tweeting support or keeping the hell out of it?!
CCP has to deal with this in her own way and the topic of how people deal with abuse was to be the subject of one of my posts tonight but it can wait for a little while. The point is we are individual human beings with different thoughts and feelings. It is entirely up to her to deal with it in a way that best suits her. Respect her enough to do this. Stop telling her or “suggesting” how she should. be doing it Tweet support or leave alone. Unfollow or get off her timeline if you are angered by the way she deals with it. What makes one person curl up in a ball and cry, will make another laugh out loud at its absurdity or laugh nervously or scream from the roof tops in anger. There will also be a mix of emotions. So someone can be furious one hour, calm the next or sobbing their heart out. Please have some compassion.
However, finding out CCP had deactivated was only the start. When I saw someone else who I respect receiving abuse, I had reached my point of ENOUGH. I knew that person had been experiencing a really hard, difficult time, working with people in awful positions this week. I chose to stand up for them, to show solidarity against misogynistic abuse, knowing I would probably get some backlash from it. It was my decision to do that so please don’t comment that I “shouldn’t feed the trolls” or such like, I’ll come to that. I believe that we have to show we do not find it acceptable and that it should not be trivialised as being okay as they’re just after the attention you’re giving it to them. For the judgmental amongst you, I should perhaps mention, that at no point did I use a single swear word. My words were “you are a poor excuse of a man with so little to be proud of. Go away”. Far from being a “man hater”, you see, I feel these types of idiots let down those many reasonable men. I continued to reply without swearing, determined not to be silenced. The person behind the tweets started to @ others in to get them to join in. Whilst I shouted back the tweets were the usual misogynistic comments about going to make them a sandwich, getting on all fours so he could put his feet up on me blah blah blah.
Interestingly, it was only once I stopped replying and instead focussed on screencapping all the tweets that they began to become more sexually explicit and vile such as, “@someoneelse would you like @me cunt or ass skid as yo special sauce?” and telling me to take cock in my mouth etc. So don’t feed the trolls and they get worse.
Worst of all was that when I went to report the tweets with the new Twitter report button, I was expected to tick a box agreeing for the report to be shared with the person I am complaining about; a report in which I am expected to provide my full name (as well as twitter name) and email address. Twitter you are a disgrace. You only need to look at the tweets, click on their timeline to see they are abusive and not using it in line with the rules. You do not need to provide them with a range of other ways to hound me or track me down.
I am lucky. An organisation offered their help and took over reporting the tweets on my behalf. I also had a huge amount of support once others realised what was happening. This included a number of those good men who are shown up by the likes of the trolls. The worst tweeter claims to be female. If she is, I can only sympathise with the horrendous life and oppression she must unknowingly be suffering from to be able to talk about women in that way. Of course, it could equally be a cover for a male troll…another common practise.
Today, I am able to deal with the crap they sent. Another day I may not. Subjected to far worse over an extended length of time, I know it would be very different. I would be full of paranoia with every tweet I received. I’d be questioning everyone around me. Oh and I would be venting my fury with an awful lot of swearing.
I have lost my Friday evening to this torrid of abuse. I am writing now but after losing many hours and this was not what I was planning to write about! Tomorrow, my work will take over. Who knows if there’ll be another opportunity this week. It has had its impact.
So why keep shouting back?
For me, it is a price I am willing to pay over and over again for the ultimate prize at the end.
When she is older, I want my daughter to be able to go on the internet and not have to accept these people in any way, shape or form. I do not want her thinking “Oh well it’s just a troll”, “That’s how some people talk about females”, “It’s okay though, just don’t challenge them”. I want her to know that society does not find it acceptable. I want her to know that social media platforms take it seriously and find it unacceptable and have easy ways for her to report it should it appear, and that they will take swift action. I want the Police to understand it, to be able to use technology, to be able to gather the evidence, to take action and get the message out there that this is abuse by an abuser and not just a nuisance.