THE BLOG
13/10/2015 13:17 BST | Updated 13/10/2016 06:12 BST

We Often Forget Online Abuse Has Real World Repercussions

Girls can be mean, we've all experienced it at some point in our lives, school, university, maybe even the work place and regardless of which gender we are. I was renowned for being lippy in primary school and had my fair share of secondary school arguments, but recently I experienced a new level of mean girl bitchiness on Twitter I never anticipated at the age of 23.

About two years ago I was in a very intense and unhealthy relationship, which ended on pretty bad terms. Long story short, we haven't had any contact in these two years but for some reason lately I felt like I needed some closure and decided to message him.

This was completely impulsive, with no agenda or purpose and I wasn't even expecting a reply - it merely said I'm sorry for how things ended and no bad feelings. He didn't respond, which is totally fine and his decision, but instead I got a response from his new girlfriend - in the form of Twitter abuse.

In amongst being called "desperate", "creepy" and "a meaningless and ugly bitch", a threat of violence was also made towards me. All because I sent an innocent message to someone on Facebook? I'm sure we all hate our boyfriends' ex and she can hate me all she wants - but to be targeted online in this way really shocked me.

I don't doubt if we ever crossed paths she would probably just give me a look and walk the other way (I hope) - so why is it when it comes to our keyboards and social media pages we think it's ok to say whatever we like, acting as if there should be no consequences. I highly doubt she posted those tweets for her followers' entertainment, those tweets were for me to see and be upset by - there was a clear consequence to her pressing send.

I've experienced Twitter trolls before, from tweeting about feminism or supporting friends who have been attacked online. But their tweets have never seemed to bother me, maybe because there's something pretty inhuman about an anonymous Twitter account. This time it was personal, she knows who I am and maybe for that reason it hurt.

Regarding the aforementioned Twitter trolls and online abusers however there are repercussions. For example, the imprisonment of two Twitter trolls for abusing feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez is just one example of real world consequences for online actions.

I won't be reporting this girl to the police, nor have I even reported her tweets, nor will she probably even read this article. Why bother writing it then I hear you ask, well I like to think this could be a lesson for us all online.

A 140 character Tweet may seem trivial compared to physical or mental abuse in real life, especially if it's to someone you know, but do not underestimate its affect. Not only should we be careful about what we post, we should also be more mindful about what we say to others - especially female to female.

With the media tearing down celebrities for being too fat or too thin, female MPs being judged on their attire rather than their policies, female News Anchors having their hair cuts judged rather than their journalism and normal women experiencing different forms of sexism day in day out, we should be uplifting one another, not knocking each other down.

It's been said so many times, by so many people, if women are to achieve true equality in society it must be done together as a collective. No one is going to take us seriously in campaigning for our equal rights when we are still calling each other "ugly bitches" on social media.

We can all learn a lesson from Mean Girls here: "Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining [someone else's] life definitely didn't make me any happier."