THE BLOG

What I Learned From Being Blocked By Piers Morgan

11/01/2017 12:21 GMT | Updated 11/01/2017 12:21 GMT

If I have taken two lessons from 2016 they are to bear disappointment and expect surprise. Once in a while I come up with a joke or a conceit which I am convinced will find favour with my followers on twitter and go viral. It never happens, but I plug on regardless. Then the clocks struck 2017 and the following floated on to the floor of my timeline

In response to Morgan saying he liked to openly block people, so they would know they were suffering.

I shared it onwards with the above addition, thinking little of it. About an hour later I glanced at my feed and saw 29 notifications, way more than I would usually expect to accumulate.

I'd just like to jump off briefly to address people not familiar with Twitter. You can post messages of up to 140 characters which can be seen by anyone who choses to follow you. You can like tweets or retweet them to your own followers. If you get sick of hearing from someone you can mute them and if you don't want them to see your tweets either you can block them. That is what happened to me now.

Piers Morgan blocked me. It was an odd move because I hadn't been following him. Odder still is that the only way I could have known that he had blocked me was that he posted a tweet to say he had blocked me, which I couldn't read because he had blocked me. I could see a load of replies to which I was effectively cc'ed in. They were all lambasting Morgan for his reaction, so I worked it out. In the end someone took a screenshot of the tweet and sent it to me.

It's actually quite pleasant being blocked by Piers Morgan. I got a lot of supportive and encouraging engagements with total strangers and ten new followers. Mostly what I got was that I don't have to see anything Piers Morgan feels the need to tweet, which is nice. But it does beg the question: why are you writing about a tedious social media spat between two privileged white guys?

A small army of people descended on me that day to chat and swap jokes. It doesn't usually end this way. Often when a figure with a large number of followers take umbrage with a fellow twittee their fans will unleash anger, aggression and threats to an alarming degree. You can block, if course but 'trolling' has become a committed business for a large number of users, who have multiple accounts and will harangue victims with rape and death threats that are both distressing and frightening to the people they target. If you think that this is just social media then remember that the murder of Jo Cox has blurred the line between empty threat and actual murder. Remember that female MPs like Jess Phillips still get abuse and threats all the time. Look up Gamergate and what that was and what it became. Twitter can be a breeding ground for the kind of bigotry and violence that spills into the outside world. Company bosses are aware of the problem and claim to be 'working on it'. But as long as my brush with a Twitter mob is the exception rather than the rule, they aren't working hard enough.