Trolling the depths ...

KIRKCALDY;'FIFE FREE PRESS staff and contributors portraits; 'ALLAN CROW'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON
KIRKCALDY;'FIFE FREE PRESS staff and contributors portraits; 'ALLAN CROW'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

‘‘How’s your dad Robbie?

Decomposing yet?

‘‘You need to die. You are ugly. Y are u on this earth?’’

TWO shocking examples of the vile art of trolling.

Both were targeted at Robbie Savage, the former footballer turned pundit and star of ‘Strictly.’

An avid user of Twitter, Savage re-tweets every piece of abuse to let people see what he has to deal with.

Without exception it’s witless and moronic, but even by those low standards this was truly repugnant.

It came within days of his beloved father passing away after a long battle with dementia.

Savage had posted a moving tribute online. This was what he got in response from the trolls.

Anyone who has been part of an online forum will have come across trolls. They’re people who try to spark a reaction by deliberately posting inflammatory comments - hence the oft-repeated phrase ‘‘don’t feed the trolls.’’ Like most attention seeking missiles, they tend to vanish if they don’t get a response, but there are lines being trampled over, never mind crossed, which sink much further than just sick humour.

Debased and defaced

Trolls are now actively seeking out the recently bereaved and and abusing them in the most brutal manner.

With tens of millions of us now on Facebook and Twitter, sharing every aspect of our lives on line, more and more pages are being created as tributes to family and friends we have lost. Every single one of them is open to the sickos to debase and deface.

On Saturday, Fabrice Muamba, the Bolton Wanderers footballer, collapsed with a cardiac arrest on the pitch in front of tens of thousands of fans and watched live on TV.

Everyone who saw the reports hoped he’d pull through and offered their own prayers and thoughts for his young family.

Except the trolls. Within hours one man was arrested for posting alleged racist remarks on Twitter - but it got worse.

On Monday, ‘‘RIP Muamba’’ was trending on the social networking site. The trolls had struck once more. The 23-year old player was still fighting for his life.

How sick do you have to be to even think about posting such garbage?

Internet forums can be great places of lively, robust debate and shared ideas.

Cloak of anonymity

They are genuine communities which bring together people with a shared interest - but they are also renowned for their total lack of civility and common courtesy when dissent breaks out as some of the keyboard warriors, who use their cloaks of anonymity as weapons, cling to the myth they have the right to say what they want, however they want. They don’t.

But criticism, however robustly made and defended, is one thing, abuse is another.

And right at the bottom of the pond lie the feeble-minded trolls.

They are the nastiest kind of bullies - in the flesh you’d laugh at their pathetic frame, but at the click of a mouse they can inflict trauma and horrendous hurt.

At a recent court case in which one troll was brought to account, he defended his actions as a bit of fun. No apology. No remorse. Just a bit of banter. Tell that to the family he’d mocked after their daughter died on a railway line accident.

Let it go? I’d have gone for his throat, and not a jury would have convicted.

Words can wound every bit as much as a blade. We cannot simply ignore these vicious creatures but cyberspace policing is difficult, so thank goodness than for the many on Twitter who were swift to condemn and expose those who posted so offensively on Muamba.

Now, let us all stand up to them ...