[DIGITAL] Bless and Block the Trolls #BlessandBlock

[DIGITAL] Bless and Block the Trolls #BlessandBlock

Yesterday, after being on BBC Breakfast, as expected, I received a couple of negative comments about my weight (particularly aware because of my involvement in Beyond Chocolate, and the #HAES hashtag). Despite so many positive comments any time I appear on TV, I still remember that when I was on The One Show, sat next to Mel Giedroyc, and someone tweeted that ‘Sue Perkins next to her seems to have porked out somewhat’. People need to remember this:


As I tweeted, I expected that a programme of such high profile, would attract someone who’s focus was on my weight, rather than my expertise.

As I wrote in a piece about someone who trolled the McCanns, but was then pushed into the glare of the media:

…the Malicious Communications Act 1988, which covers Twitter, notes that it is an offence to send messages to another person which are “indecent or grossly offensive”, threatening or false. If the message is intended to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient, they breach the law.

As written in a piece on Psychology Today “Why do people think it’s okay to say racist, inflammatory, or otherwise socially inappropriate things online?”. Most of the time I’d ignore trolls , but this time, I decided I’d respond to the (thankfully only) two that I received/noted on the hashtag.

The first was this, which thankfully a friend had seen and nicely responded to:

*I realise that those who are determined can find out who these people are, but I don’t want a pile on so I have blanked all accounts out for now.

As I wrote in my book (p119), my friend is refusing to be a bystander:

The role of bystanders is often ignored in discussions about online bullying, but they can play an important role in encouraging children to take action. Don’t forget the famous saying attributed to Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” When a situation is already difficult, the real-time nature of social media can feed the situation, but it can also be used to ease tension and allow friends of the victim to declare themselves as “digital allies”. If someone spots a hurtful comment, three others can then come in and protest against the posting.

I posted about this on Facebook, and said that I was tempted to post back with the image of the following badge which had just arrived in the post – and then decided to!

Fred (as this is what he called himself, though clearly not his name) wanted to know why he should care, to which I responded:

To which I received the following response:

A lot of my friends are pretty digitally literate (and listen to my rants about interacting positively, and using social media with wisdom, etc.), and a few more responses came in:

To which I said:

And another friend posted:

Some brought some beautiful responses from our troll *language warning:

In fact you’ll see that our troll is very ‘eloquent’ in his responses:

Another response from a friend gets even more eloquence:

I decided it was worth engaging a couple of times, but clearly he was a ‘proper troll’, and not to be engaged with, so I followed the example of my friend Kate, and went for the ‘Bless and Block’ approach (I’m not quite sure what the second response meant, but…).

Whilst I was at it, I reported the account, and soon after it was suspended. I was surprised that that had happened so fast, though algorithms could be looking for specific insulting words in reported users?!

As Michelle Obama famously said:

I saw this later in the day and thought it summed up how some people approach Twitter – not with reasoned debate, but looking for a snarling fight:

The other person I interacted with, however, demonstrated that it’s sometimes worth trying (he’d posted something about the fact that I should have been down the gym, rather than on Twitter…):

His excuse was:

I am not a fan of excusing anything as ‘Bantz’ because it usually covers up a whole load of unacceptable things (as this misuse of Keep Calm demonstrates):

Fortunately, I also had a load of lovely comments from friends (known and unknown), and this is a good mantra.

It does bug, but basically, it’s not someone’s opinion who I care about, but does continue to drive my passion for continuing to seek ways to make online interactions (and the whole of life) more inclusive, and a more positive space to be!

So:

Love this 🙂

A post shared by Bex Lewis (@drbexl) on

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Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture  in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.

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