Tweets and trolls in 140 characters ...


By Dawn Renton

Another week another user abusing Twitter. It’s nothing new really. It has become the norm over the past couple of years.

This time it was the turn of a 16-year-old school boy who posted on the internet for all to see that he might carry out a “Dunblane-style massacre” at his school in Coatbridge.

To make matters even worse, the offensive tweet was spotted by a parent whose child was killed in the 1996 massacre.

The young man was arrested, and sentence has been deferred until September pending good behaviour.

Sadly, he wasn’t the first and no doubt he won’t be the last person who should seriously think before they post on social media sites the first thing that pops into their heads.

Laws have been set in place which can only be a good thing and are a step in the right direction as long as they are actually used. I know that there are thousands, if not millions of us, who use Twitter for its intended purpose which is to share our lives with our followers.

It lets people know what we’re doing, what we’re thinking, what we’re having for our tea and to allow us a glimpse into what our favourite celebrities are having for theirs.

I’m sure that when the creators of Twitter came up with the idea way back in 2006, they didn’t imagine that their great idea would be used to cause hurt or to upset people.

I’m on Twitter and have been for a good few years now - I have both a personal account and a work one and I wouldn’t say that I’m a big user.

I perhaps tweet maybe once or twice a day the reason why I don’t tweet 24/7 mainly because I have nothing of much interest to say.

I would never think to switch on my snazzy new laptop (I really needed a new one as my old one sounded like it was going to take the NASA team on an orbit of the moon) go on Twitter and think to myself, while I steeple my fingers and grin manically, “Who can I send abuse to today?” (insert evil laugh here).

My lovely mum always told me, though I suspect she stole this line from a Springsteen song, “don’t say nothing if you’ve got nothing nice to say” and anyway, why would I want to use the powers that were given to me (sort of) by Twitter, for evil instead of the greater good? I’m more a Batgirl than a Catwoman.

I always feel that those who tweet abuse at celebrities and to us ordinary folk must have little or no self-confidence and far too much time on their hands.

Tweeting celebrities is great and you may even earn yourself a famous follower or a retweet if you’re witty and charming enough.

I know that I’ve lost count how many times I’ve tweeted my undying love to Mick Jagger (I’m still waiting on a reply by the way Mick, but that’s okay, I’m a patient girl) but these “trolls” just hide behind their keyboards and spend hours filling up Twitter feeds with their hurtful words.

Wouldn’t it be nice - that’s my favourite Beach Boys song by the way - if people tweeted “have a nice day” instead?

Or is that just the peace and love hippy in me?

The internet can be a wonderful place , but yet it can also be a dangerous place in the wrong hands.

I know that it’s not just Twitter where these trolls lurk leaving hurtful remarks and comments in their wake- they can be found in every corner of the internet.

It’s not asking a lot for people just to be nice to each other and maybe its just a case of think before you speak, or in this instance, think before you type.

There is always a backspace button; you don’t have to hit that return button, the world will not implode if you don’t. I promise.

Charles van Commenee, the UK athletics head coach managed to sum up Twitter users with this delightful phrase: “Twitter is for clowns and attention seekers”.

Well, I dread to think what category that puts me into.