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Trolling and abuse; a thread.

Having been a subject of multiple campaigns over the years, I thought I would share my experience with you in hope of finding some parallels and sublimation. Full disclosure; I used to be very into politics, a big risk for this kind of thing.
Twitter is a useful tool for networking and understanding people, forging new relationships and developing communication. It also provides an avenue for the sidelined to raise concerns and find cohesion in a universality of shared experience. It can be good thing.
However, it is also a place where those can hide behind pseudonyms, flags, and memes and interact with you in ways designed to destroy you, push their own agenda and ruin your life. Sometimes this goes as far as threatening your or life. I have had both.
A few years back I called out Nigel on what I perceived to be a blatant mistruth. As such I was retweeted and targetted. I had weeks of death threats, people writing extended threads about me...
So started the dogpile, a process by which those with a shared view all attack one person. My timeline was full of comments ranging from fair criticisms to outright slander, I was called a Nazi, communist, abuser, murderer etc. So me went as far as threatening my life.
Others stalked my other social media accounts, wrote long comments on my written pieces. Defamed, antagonised and attacked my followers. My mother herself got really concerned. Myself, strings of panic attacks, anxiety and poor sleep for weeks.
Multiple versions of this have happened over the years, whether it be from something innocuous, or even standing up for someone, it attracts the same behaviour. In each case, people simply think their actions have no effect, or that they are validated in their viciousness.
Over time constant exposure to this harassment and abuse has made my internal and physiological reaction to it much less marked. I worry less, I sleep better, I distance myself more easily. But the themes are the same and can be summarised thus:
1) Actively causing dogpiles to bully and intimidate someone
2) Lying, screenshotting and making false allegations of action or comments
3) Extended discussions mocking and deriding screen shotting, subtweeting and tagging in powerful groups and figures to put on more pressure
This is all often done with a sense of moral authority, as I am the bad guy. And more often than not, it lasts for around 24-72 hours before the groups move on to their next victim. It is a cycle of hate and harassment. And I am sure that many of you reading this have had it.
As someone who both suffers from anxiety and depression, extended exposure to these negative experiences could have gone one or two ways. And in some cases, it went the negative. But I got therapy, adapted, learned, and moved on. But my advice is quite simple;
1) Learn when to bow out - if someone has it in for you, then perhaps you will only dig yourself in deeper. Learn when your words are being ignored.
2) Create distance and establish boundaries; mute, block and disable threads/harassers. Its not worth it.
3) Stop engaging - trolls feed on response. Stop engaging and they will get bored.
4) If there is a serious allegation or concerning behaviour which may be illegal, report it to twitter or the local police. Screenshot things, keep records.
5) Learn to recognise the groups
6) Remember this is rarely about you in particular, you have become a subject of displaced anger. As such, you may not be the solution and a solution you provide may not solve the problem
7) If your health begins to suffer, stop, get help and simply distance yourself. No social media thread is worth the hell of it. A worthy cause can continue outside the small confines of a discussion or thread, and continuing to battle against trolls wastes your time.
8) Remember that noone on twitter is who they seem. The Jungian idea of persona is just that, a mask they put on to communicate their ideal self. Real people make mistakes and errors. Any moral fortitude is often illusory.
9) If you make a mistake, apologise and move on. Saying sorry and learning is all you can do. If people can't accept it, its their problem and not yours. Reflective learning is an adult skill, but holding grudges is a child's habit.
10) Share advice on coping and support each other. No man (or woman) is an island, and although twitter can appear infinite, it is really a set of circles. Look out for each other, a short DM or a phone call to reassure or challenge perspectives.
Anyway, I hope this helps.
Oh, and don't worry about me. This thread wasn't so much for me, but you. I'm good.
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