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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Who Let The Trolls Out? Who? Who? Who? Who?

Updated: Mar 24

 

I’ve been under a tirade of trolling in the last 24 hours on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook after posting a photo to publicise the upcoming March for Rejoin in Liverpool on Saturday 23rd March. I need to stop reading their hate.


Twitter Trolls




 I’ve not experienced a torrent of trolling like this since 2019, when someone was funding bot farms to instigate clearly co-ordinated attacks. Yes, there’s been the occasional (including the odd-ball on Facebook a couple of weeks ago who was simultaneously accusing me of being a Jew and a Nazi), but this single Tweet currently has nearly 430 comments (most of which are abuse), 740 likes and 69,000 views. A supportive retweet from the event organisers, has even more hate underneath it (I am still not sure if it was wise of them to do that).



 I shouldn’t be reading all their shitty comments, but it’s addictive. And the only real way to avoid reading them is to close the app and not to look at your notifications – which isn’t realistic when you’re trying to promote an event. Also, why should I be driven out of a public debate by other people’s obnoxious behaviour?



It always astonishes me how such a positive, hopeful and bold image can spark such vitriol and hatred in others. The only way to cope with it, is to be philosophical about it; at least I provoked a reaction  – which is far better than being ignored. Meaningful change will always meet with a strong resistance. As Dee kindly put it, ‘look at it as success you have rocked their world! Well done you 💜’. I also remind myself of the infinite wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde:

 


Nevertheless, some of the narratives within the abuse hurt far more than others and are much more difficult to cope with. It would be naïve to pretend that none of it hurts. In particular, the sexualised and misogynistic commentary, “Do you get your kit off?”, “Performing…. pole dancing by any chance?”, "shame she's a remoaner, she's got nice tits" leaves me feeling very depressed. It’s the injustice of being told that women have no right to speak out because the only purpose we serve in life is the sexual gratification of men “That’s a challenging wank”, the assertion that are identity is defined by belonging to a man “still not found yourself a husband? Clocks ticking dear…” and the expectation that we have to “pop out a few kids” to give us “something meaningful to do”. Another retweeted with the caption "Can you rail nationalism into a woman. I would try" which I'm pretty sure is a thinly veiled rape threat.



I am also particularly vulnerable to the jokes about my mental health “Nurse! she’s gotten out again. Bring the big net and special jacket!” given the fragile state I have been in for most of my life (not helped by the trolls themselves). But when I take a step away from the personal nature of the attacks, I genuinely can't believe that in 2024 people are still using mental health illness as an insult. I also get disheartened by the criticism of my creative work; “still tone deaf?”, “attention seeking caterwauling”, “we wondered when the tone deaf bird would be wheeled out again”, especially as I was told as I child that I couldn't sing in tune, which knocked my confidence so much that I didn't really learn to sing until I left home. Because of all this, I have a very sceptical response to "feedback" - I've had to adopt a policy of only accepting criticism and advice from people who I trust - all other unsolicited opinions can just sod off.




There were a few of them using an old insult which was frequently hurled at me of “grifting” because I used to crowdfund my campaigning. It was a stupid criticism to make at the time, the fact that they are still using it even though I don’t have a crowdfunder anymore, just goes to show the abuse was never about the ethics of crowdfunding in the first place.Several others have been telling me to "get a job for heaven's sake!" despite the fact that I currently have multiple.



I made the mistake of replying to a few of them, but there replies to my replies are often very telling. For example, one account wrote, “It’s all about YOU”, to which I replied asking whether he had “a problem with women taking up space?”. Another troll replied “You are an example of why women getting the vote was a grave mistake” – perfectly highlighting the misogynistic nature of the abuse. Another troll I responded to made a horrific and insensitive analogy to the Japanese after they suffered nuclear bombing in WWII.



Of course, there are also positive, supportive comments amidst the hate, but they are and few and far between. I always say that hate speaks louder than love, but love is far stronger. And when you’ve been continually abused or bullied, when people show you genuine kindness and empathy… It means everything.




The retweet by the organisers asking people to show me support was sweet, but misguided – as more abuse sits underneath. He also messaged me in private to say he felt “responsible” for inviting me to speak because it exposes me. That really hit home the importance of persevering despite the trolling – yes, the abuse hurts, but being silenced hurts far more. I’ve just got to hope that none of the internet nutters show up at the actual event on Saturday…


Facebook Trolls



I think it's interesting to note that this deluge of misogynistic hate only really occurs on X (formerly known as Twitter). I do get trolled on other platforms, recently my relatively dormant TikTok exploded with one video reaching 140, 000 views because of a deluge of trolls – but the hate wasn’t as misogynistic as on Twitter. Similarly on Facebook, there was a deluge of trolls with the post reaching 80, 000 users and 673 comments. These trolls were less vitriolic and although there was some misogyny "crazy MIL at a wedding screeching away", it wasn't as intense as X, there are also many positive comments and shares from my supporters.



Instagram Community


I think the only time I was trolled on Instagram was when I made a post about Tommy Robinson. Instagram is my happy place where my followers are mostly my friends or the colleagues I have met at work events and it’s a way for us to stay connected and update each other on our lives. I have six times as many followers on X, but if I had to choose to quit one platform, it would absolutely be X because of the hate and vitriol I am subjected to by its users. I shared some of my “favourite” troll comments in a post on Instagram and the response I received from my friends and followers re-instated my faith in humanity.



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