The House of Lords will debate this week whether the maximum sentence for online abusers should be raised from six months to two years.
Following a string of high-profile cases, this news has been welcomed by many. But even us ordinary folk suffer from so-called ‘trolling’ sometimes – so what are the best ways of dealing with such abuse? Take heed: here are five ways that celebrities have backhanded their haters.
1. James Blunt: retweet them with added witticisms.
Although some would say it’s better to ignore rather than indulge the trolls, singer-songwriter James Blunt has a pretty smart way of dealing with insults hurled at him.
Only coz I turned her down. RT @anadinskywalker: my grandma just called james blunt a queer
— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) December 15, 2013
Viagra and coffee mostly. RT @paigefergg: Bloody hell why is James Blunt still going
— James Blunt (@JamesBlunt) December 12, 2013
2. Mary Beard: give them a reference.
The prolific author and Cambridge University classics professor admirably tamed some of her trolls when she decided to forgive one boy who called her ‘a filthy old slut’. Having met up with him for lunch, she then even wrote him a character reference, worrying that his well-publicised attacks on her might harm his job prospects. They’re now friends.
If you’re raising an eyebrow at this turnaround, you’re probably not alone. But there’s no doubt it’s been effective, and Professor Beard gave the Independent a straightforward explanation we can all learn from, whatever our age: ‘Please don’t overplay this. I am just a sensible middle-aged woman who does what sensible middle-aged women do: move on.’
3. Katie Hopkins: ‘If you can’t handle the trolls, just don’t go on Twitter’.
Hated public figure she may be, but you have to admire her straightforward attitude. In this video clip from Sky News, she tells journalist Sonia Poulton ‘if you don’t like the forum, get off it. The police have better things to be doing.’
4. Taylor Swift: write a number one song about them.
Poor Taylor receives more hate than most, without good reason – but for every nasty comment, there’s an army of 45.5 million Twitter followers who’ll leap to her defence. With this in mind, the immensely popular artist wrote hit #1 single ‘Shake it Off’, about ridding yourself of the cruel comments and endless rumours which circulate around her.
Two months ago she announced her new album and talked about the inspiration for ‘Shake it Off’:
‘The message in the song is a problem I think we all deal with and an issue we deal with on a daily basis. We don’t live just in a celebrity takedown culture, we live in a takedown culture. People will find anything about you and twist it to where it’s weird or wrong or annoying or strange or bad. You have to not only live your life in spite of people who don’t understand you; you have to have more fun than they do.‘
Taylor’s incredible success shows that her fans’ love for her music massively drowns out the haters. We can’t all be pop superstars, but her message is an important one: dance to your own rhythm, and ignore what anyone else says.
5. JK Rowling: out them.
Although she doesn’t tweet often, Buzzfeed reported JK Rowling’s brilliant response for one horribly homophobic user (who has since disappeared):
@halfelven55ff I advise you to start following Brian Souter at once. He’s much more your kind of person. — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 6, 2014
Brian Souter, by the way, is a rich Scottish businessman known for funding anit-gay legislation. Nice. She also had these words of wisdom to offer her followers, which sums up the nature of Twitter – and life in general:
If you’re waiting for universal popularity, you’ll be on Twitter a VERY long time. xxxx — J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 6, 2014