I posted the other day about how I’d been on the whole staying out of EduTwitter because of the monstering tactics used by a small proportion of teachers and other educationalists. Little did I realise that just a couple of days later I’d be hounded off Twitter myself, and for exactly the same reasons outlined in that post. I’d not named names in that post for a reason, with the exception of Teaching Newbie, but I really do think there are a couple of names that I need to mention here. Perhaps I should engage legal counsel before continuing?

It all started innocently enough – a friend and I had been discussing “The Godfather” in a DM chat on Monday, and I made reference to it in a tweet last night. You’ll know what I’m talking about – I said the words ‘mob enforcer’ and ‘horse head’ in the same tweet. I’m still baffled at how that reference is somehow confirmation that my friend had set up a spoof account of another teacher and then filled it with pictures of dead foxes. If you can untangle that and work it all out, please get in touch and explain it to me. I’m clearly too dumb to understand.

That tweet, and her reply, were then posted via a screenshot by Vince Ulam, who I’d previously blocked after he’d harassed me (and yes, that IS the correct spelling of the word – I’ll come back to that in a moment). Maybe I should be flattered that he took the time to use another account to view a completely innocent tweet of mine, or maybe I should be concerned that he’s so desperate to see whatever inane thoughts pop up on my timeline that he’s followed me under another account. Either way, it’s irrelevant. I’d blocked him for harassment and here he is deliberately misinterpreting and misconstruing something in an out of context fashion in an attempt to ignite trouble. I’d say that makes him a troll, but I’m sure there are people who will blame me for my behaviour rather than take him to task over his.

That screenshot and ludicrous link to something I wasn’t even aware of at the time was then retweeted by Daisy Norfolk. Daisy has been a very outspoken critic of anybody she deems to be engaging in harassment or trolling, however thin that definition is. She took it upon herself to not only retweet it and refuse to remove it – after I’d said that he’d used a screenshot as I’d blocked him for harassing me – but to tag Justine Greening and the College of Teaching. I guess attempting to grass me up to Mummy and Daddy for something completely innocent is how ‘fully functioning adults’ deal with things that they don’t like.

She’s fully aware of this being harassment and is perfectly happy to leave it on her timeline despite me asking her to remove it, given the circumstances. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually asked someone to delete a tweet before, so you can understand how upsetting I find it to be targeted by a known troll and then to have it compounded by someone who calls everyone else out on their behaviour but who is apparently too high up on her pedestal to be tainted by the same thing.

Someone else chimed in on top of this, with something else that was not only completely irrelevant but wrong (I’ll just leave this here – for the spelling, but the content isn’t exactly out of context either).

Is it the worst I’ve ever had thrown at me on social media? No. But I made it clear I’d already had a very difficult day, albeit not bad enough apparently in a world of Shitty Day Top Trumps. It’s the reason I didn’t sleep last night and why, at 6.25am, I’ve already been awake for several hours. But hey, it’s no excuse and I should really consider my own behaviour in daring to make a film reference, I know.

I’m sure I’d have reacted differently on a different day, and maybe I’d have just written all three of them off and used the block and report tools instead of deactivating my account. But no matter which side of debates you stand on when things fire up on Twitter, this behaviour just isn’t professional and isn’t necessary. You either need to practise what you preach or don’t preach at all. You can’t claim to be so offended by the behaviour of others and then engage in that same behaviour yourself and think it’s ok.

So for now, I bid you adieu and adios. It might be temporary or it might be permanent, I haven’t decided. But whichever corner you choose, consider your own behaviour before attempting to police others.


11 thoughts on “Hounded.

  1. Aw Sarah – I’m sorry this happened – I don’t know what’s wrong with edu Twitter at the moment. Stay well and hope to a least see you at Betts again. Sarah Ledger also says Hi xxx

    • Thanks Jules. I’m hoping that with a bit of rest and time I’ll gain a bit more perspective and not let the trolls rule – but I’ve got bigger fish to fry at the moment x

  2. I’m sorry to read this. I’ve rarely had bother on twitter – but in those times I have, a break, because I have been genuinely upset, has been called for.

    Take care xxx

      • In the end, I just stop responding to people who aren’t kind. I’ve got enough on my plate without Twitter arguments – and I think most people have too. xxx

  3. Hi,

    I’m really sad that you’ve left Twitter but can understand how you feel.

    What I think I find most annoying – aside from the abuse – is the hypocrisy. People hurl foul and abusive comments around, and then play the victim.

    We need voices like yours to keep us all calm!

  4. I think it’s the hypocrisy that really got to me last night. It wasn’t even subtle. If I wanted to lower myself to their standards, maybe I’d consider reporting them to their employers? How do you teach your students right from wrong when you behave like that?

  5. Sarah – sorry to hear how you have been treated. This kind of behaviour lets us down as professionals but also as humans. None of us have the time & the energy for the negativity nor the drama. I understand you have had a particularly hard week & this was the last thing you needed too. Don’t let the bullies win, you have a lot of us who will fight your corner. It is saddening & sickening to watch colleagues treated in this way. Take care & don’t lose any sleep on people who behave like this. They don’t deserve your time nor energy. X

    • Thanks for getting in touch, Hannah. I really do appreciate it. I hope that when I eventually drag myself out from under the current casework overload that I have some time to get back on it and utilise it for the benefits that it really does offer, not least of which is the array of fab people I’ve connected with over the years.

  6. I’m sorry to read this, Sarah and your previous blog, ‘Monstering”. My conversation with Andrew was based on my concern that he was making unfounded allegations about teachers. I asked for evidence, which he couldn’t provide and later he agreed he would edit his blog to put the error right (I’m not sure if he’s done this yet). I understand from the outside it may have seemed that my persistence was unreasonable “cyberbullying” but I felt it was important to see if the allegations were true. I tried to remain polite, if insistent. Clearly, from your perspective, I overstepped the mark.

    In regards to your latest blog, ‘Hounded’. I would like to say the way you have been treated is unacceptable and is not something I would condone in any way. I was made aware of your blog by Naureen who copied me into a tweet. I hope, after a short break, you will want to come back and that nothing like this happens to you again.

    I also hope, that things calm down on Twitter and we can start listening to each other rather than shouting and trying to score points.

    My best wishes to you.


    • Hi Tim,

      I think your conversation with Andrew was just a convenient example as it was happening when I wrote the post – but it could have been any number of examples involving any number of people and made the same point (part of the reason I didn’t name names there – it wasn’t relevant). The cyberbullying point certainly doesn’t refer to you, that was a different example altogether – apologies if you thought otherwise.

      As for the latest issue, I have neither the time nor the tolerance to deal with such behaviour. I realise it comes from a small minority but it has a big impact and the fact that people either deny that it happens or outright condone it is as frustrating as the harassment itself. I have no qualms about tweeting using my own name and being identified as a teacher at my school, and I stand by any and all tweets I’ve sent. But the total failure on their part to address a legitimate concern when I explicitly stated that I saw it as harassment, on top of dealing with the stresses of the day I’d already put in, meant that I was and am better off taking a good break before I inadvertently slip up and say what I really want to.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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