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.