Sunday, 12 August 2012

Walking, not running...

I'm giving away my age now but I must admit to being quite a fan of country music. The Waylon, Willie, Johnny and Kenny variety that is.

One of my favourite songs is 'The Gambler'. It sticks in my mind for a multitude of reasons. Firstly it's a good tune, even when it isn't the Rogers version. Secondly, it was the soundtrack of one of my summers in West Virginia, many moons ago. Thirdly, a dear old friend once said that it was a great piece of advice and I should listen to the words instead of just singing along. The line that stays with me is:

"If you're gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,

Know when to walk away and know when to run."

Over the years I've mastered the art of 'walking away' Sometimes you just have to accept that something, be it a job, a relationship or a social setting, is simply not worth hanging around for. Life's too short.

As I've mentioned previously on this blog I have dipped in and out of Twitter since 2007. I remember when I lived in Spain trying my damnedest to explain to people what micro blogging is, how it was the next big thing and how it could be a tremendous tool to either promote projects, build profiles or simply create a sense of social cohesion. People didn't get it. Many still don't and never will. The fact is though that Twitter has changed our relationship with the internet - whether mobile or desktop.

A month ago I was talking to an old friend about a business start up that he's involved in. He asked me about Twitter and I said he should get an account set up there to build its profile. Then he asked me what I thought of it personally. I replied "It's peaked." He seemed shocked at this and asked me why. My simple answer was "Too many trolls. Too many legal minefields. Not enough moderation. Too much negative publicity recently."

I spoke to him this weekend and he said that I seemed to have got it right. He'd been watching recent coverage of the current trolling epidemic. Soccer stars, television presenters, pop stars have been trolled to the extent that they're shutting down accounts left, right and centre.

On Saturday night it was my turn. I received a tweet that was so utterly repugnant that I said my goodbyes and deactivated my account.

But I'm not 'running away'. I'm not a 'victim'. The 'bullies' haven't won.

I'm simply tired of it.

This is the third time I've been seriously 'trolled'. Three times is quite enough, thank you very much.

The last time it happened my wife was targeted too and she thought I was mad to return there. I promised her that if it happened again that I'd close my account. I've kept my promise.

This morning she said to me "You know Leo, if you really want to you know I don't mind If you go back after a break." That's the kind of woman she is. But do you know what? I genuinely don't want to.

Years ago, when I lived in London. I frequented the same pub every lunch time for pie and mash and a chat with the regulars. The pub gradually changed though. A new clientele appeared. Younger, brasher, noisier. A jukebox was installed. The menu changed. Then it was redecorated. Soon it was no longer a pleasure to visit. It was noisy, unfriendly and uncomfortable.

One day a colleague said to me: "What's the point of going back when you don't like it any more?"

So I didn't go back - and lunchtime became a pleasure again.

I'm very grateful for all the lovely supportive messages I've received from the 'good guys'. It's humbling.

But I won't change my mind.

I'm walking away because I've had enough and why stay somewhere you don't actually need to be if it's become uncomfortable?

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