I admit I enjoy using Twitter and have become acquainted with some great people through it. People who I enjoy communicating with about sport, politics, entertainment, religion or whatever. You name it there are people on Twitter who have something to say and they often link to interesting blogs or websites.
But then there are people who are just downright ignorant and foul. A Twitter acquaintance of mine, a follower who I also follow, was in a terrible state yesterday and was considering deleting her Twitter account. The reason being that she was receiving the most vile and hate filled venom from militant atheists and pro-abortionists. I'm no prude, and I don't object to 'industrial language', but what she was receiving was truly disgusting and beyond what you would expect in a civilised society. The reason for this bile was that she writes from a Roman Catholic perspective and, like me, opposes abortion.
It's almost a year now since the Pope visited this country. This time last year I was receiving pretty vile Tweets myself from militant atheists, although nothing as bad as mentioned above. I remember wondering at the time why these people, who claim to be enlightened and progressive, have to spout such foul mouthed venom at those of us they disagree with? I expect people to challenge those of us who are practising christians, pro-life or whatever, but why the need to be personally abusive and vile?
Having never experienced face-to-face the abuse that I and others have on Twitter, and sometimes on blogs, I can only think that there are a lot of hypocrites out there who hide behind the anonymity and isolation of the internet to show their true selves, their true selves being not very pleasant but they hide it in 'real life'.
The other option is that they are so socially inadequate that we thankfully don't come across them in traditional social situations, only via the internet. Just think, that anti-social oddball in the corner, often referred to as 'Billy No Mates', spending all night with half a shandy and his mobile, could be spouting foul mouthed venom on Twitter while you're having a laugh and a good time with your friends. But he wouldn't say boo to a goose to real people in the same room.
My advice yesterday was to be ruthless but don't walk away from Twitter. In the last twelve months I have ruthlessly blocked the idiots who are incapable of communicating like civilised humans. I don't block atheists, why should I? I enjoy debate and it would be tedious if we all protected ourselves from people with other views. But those who are abusive I block. To my mind it's plain rude and bad manners, it is actually possible to disagree with somebody but respect them. I wouldn't choose to socialise with abusive and vile mouthed slobs so I choose not to have anything to do with them on the internet. In fact I've blocked one on Twitter this morning.
Interestingly a reasonable proportion of people I follow are from the USA. But I rarely see foul mouthed abuse, even when there are heated debates on highly emotive issues from Americans on Twitter. It seems to be a very British thing, maybe a symptom of our decline as a civilised, decent nation, a physical symptom of which was the recent riots.