I GOT PROPER old school Twitter trolled at the weekend. Veiled threats of violence, denouncements for being a ‘peice [sic] of shit’, fond reminiscing about a time when people like me were burned… All your greatest troll hits. What had I done? Spoken at an abortion rights event, tweeted about it, attracted attention from individuals whose world views don’t tally with mine; one of whom – @Calvnstphysics, whose avatar is a graphic of some monster robot blasting the earth with death rays – ratcheted up aggression in a way I hadn’t previously experienced.
Oh, I’ve had Twitter grief before, damning and hard; but only from other women determined to prove they’re better at feminism than me. @Calvnstphysics brought a whole new level of rage, twisted logic and awful spelling to proceedings. It started with the ‘ burning’ tweet; I replied, pointing out they’d burned witches, not journalists in short skirts. ‘My job is to fuck ur life up,’ he said. I said: ‘I’m currently having a flat white in a fancy caff, got a facial booked in an hour… How’s that working out?’ He said: ‘ You might be famous, but I’m anonymous and that can be useful.’ I thought, yay! He thinks I’m famous! He said: ‘u need a man to teech u what u are with his boot.’ I said: ‘ You’re not a man.’
I know you’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but it was mesmerising to confront such raw, uncensored misogyny. Like I say, I’ve only ever been Twitter attacked by the more pious aspects of the sisterhood in the past; relatively, this was kind of fun… Oh. Until it got depressing. ‘Get in your place bitch,’ @Calvnstphysics tweeted, and I was hit by a sudden, desperate insight into his reality. Because, of course: I am in my place. My place is 27,000 followers on Twitter, which isn’t Kardashian-huge but, compared to @Calvnstphysics’ paltry 29…? It’s a lot. My place is this column; all @Calvnstphysics has got is misspelt tweets filled with opaque threats he and I both know he’ll never act on. My place is to be heard, over and over again, loud and clear, by people who might not agree – but who at least listen. @Calvnstphysics’ place is to be ignored, invisible, irrelevant. How awful to hate and fear women as much as @Calvnstphysics does, as totally and viscerally, and yet be doomed to inhabit a planet where even lady muppets like me make more of a splash with a fleeting tweet than anything he ever thinks – or says, or feels – ever could.
How lonely. How impotent. How sad.