In my day, compared to today, it was a simpler form of bullying - not that I am condoning it in any way - but it was face to face, name calling, physical and mental hurts, you knew the name and the face of the bullies, you knew the familiar outlines as they came towards you so you could run in the opposite direction. Today not only do you have to contend with what I went through you also have to contend with the cyber bullying - the nameless and faceless who say the most disgusting things because they feel they have an anonymity and an autonomy to behave without repercussion.
Offended people repeating the very sentences that have offended them will always been intrinsically funny to me. It is a fart in church and I am 12. Frankie Boyle has never made me laugh harder than when his act is regurgitated by an outraged lawyer. I take a great deal of glee in the very specific type of self-unawareness involved...
I heard this morning that Jonathan Agnew quit Twitter after receiving a stream of abuse on the site after a spat with Kevin Pietersen's wife. Although I haven't (yet) been wished 'death by Ebola' by an anonymous Twitter user, I've recently had the misfortune of dealing with a few Twitter trolls of my own...
The first amendment in the United States is a wonderful thing. It means you can say whatever you like about anything... But with the increasing popularity of Facebook comment section fights, and chatroom brawls, I'm seeing more and more often that people seem to forget that freedom of speech goes both ways.
By now you'll have probably heard of Breanna Mitchell, the teenage girl who posted a selfie smiling at Auschwitz concentration camp. Although she posted the photo some time ago (June 20th), it has only recently gone viral - clocking up more than 3300 retweets and a barrage of abuse over the past few days.
My family, it appears, are a 'bunch of ugly, sad losers'. My wife is so 'desperate' to leave me that she will '**** the next man she has a drink with'. My beautiful children are, variously, 'pathetic... spoilt... probably adopted' because I am 'unable to get it up... a waste of space... a miserable, untalented tosser'. Worst of all though, my kitchen is 'hideous'. So this is what being trolled feels like... The other week I wrote what I felt was a thought-provoking, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, confessional about my enforced 12-month sabbatical as a stay-at-home dad trying to set up a new business after sudden redundancy.
I'm not sure about you but I'm still figuring things out as I go along - and I don't think there is any shame in that. We might not always like what we hear but we've got to respect it all the same. The power of debate is rooted in our differences and imperfections. The tide of subsequent social and political change relies as much on our ears as our mouths.