I officially have a troll, and I won’t lie…it kind of makes me feel like a bit of main character.

He tweets me nearly every time I’m on the tv or the radio to tell me how he cannot stand sight nor sound of me. It’s a bit convenient that he just happens to be tuning in 99% of the times I’m featuring on a show, but I’ll just chalk that down to…coincidence?

He has all of the attributes you would expect from a troll: a Middle Ages soldier as his profile picture, one follower, an unhealthy obsession with everything I say or do…it’s really quite flattering.

Obviously other Twitter users do like to drop into my mentions or DMs to insult me (usually when I’ve written something in defence of the ultimate anathema to British racists, Queen Meghan), but this troll does not miss a beat. Regardless of the topic – I could be detailing how to give lifesaving mouth to mouth to a breathless baby, and he’d still call me a tw*t.


I’m at peace with my troll, because I know he’s projecting his own unhappiness onto me, and that there is an obvious void in his life which he has chosen to fill with an irrational dislike of a person he’s never met.

But more than anything, I’m at peace with the situation because it doesn’t make me feel unsafe. He has never exhibited an intention to hurt me, there’s been no sign that he knows where I live and I am always careful online as to posting details that could make me too easily trackable.

If I felt like he wanted to pop up in my real, offline life, then I wouldn’t be so calm about the situation.

I suppose I also feel less aggrieved by the trolling, because it doesn’t cross a certain level of cruelty. If he were to pick apart my intelligence or appearance then I would of course find that upsetting. But the fact that he merely tells me on loop that he just cannot stand to watch or listen to me, isn’t too bad.

I think that’s where the dividing line is between sharing an opinion – as unsupportive as it may be – and menacingly using your online platform to cause somebody else pain. The former is justifiable, the latter is unnecessary.

The National Wales: Jacques O'Neil who left Love IslandJacques O'Neil who left Love Island

Twitter – the mothership of the trolls – has this week been filled with warnings to Love Island viewers of the need to #BeKind to contestant Jacques O’Neill who left the show yesterday of his own accord (ie without a public vote sending him packing).

His exit is preceded by a flurry of heated arguments, all of which stemmed from his appalling, gaslighting behaviour. His actions and attitude have been so manipulative, that nobody with a basic understanding of respect, will be sorry to see the back of him.

Whilst I inherently agree that we should all err on the side of caution before hitting send on a tweet that could potentially offend the person you are discussing, there is definitely a difference between needlessly assassinating somebody’s character out of spite, and merely expressing an opinion on somebody’s actions or behaviour.

#BeKind should not be a safety net to protect wrong’uns from being held accountable.


If, like Jacques, you have gaslit a woman on national TV and exhibited a chilling attitude towards the pain you have caused, then I don’t think you are entitled to be mollycoddled with kindness back in the real world. He does not deserve cruelty, neither does he deserve to feel threatened. But he does deserve to have his behaviour discussed frankly and openly.

The obvious elephant in the room is the number of suicides linked to Love Island – it is something every viewer and commentor should bear in mind when airing their opinions. However, this is where the line between cruelty and fair commentary should be heeded. Whilst nobody should be left to feel suicidal after appearing on the show, we also should not let behaviour such as Jacques’ be aired on primetime TV without any form of accountability.

There are millions of young viewers absorbing the messaging emanating from Love Island every night – it is vital that they are shown how unacceptable manipulation and gaslighting is. It would be inherently irresponsible to silence critics by yelling #BeKind, meanwhile letting him swan through post-Island life signing a cushty little JD Sports deal and getting away with his abusive behaviour.

My heart goes out to every individual chewed up and spat out by the world of reality TV. I fear one day in the not-too-distant future, we’ll look back with regret at the way we so fervently watched untrained, normal people be paraded and toyed with at the expense of their mental wellbeing.

We should not disregard the feelings of the person being criticised, but neither should #BeKind buffer perpetrators from fair scrutiny.

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