Internet trolls

I never re blog things, ever. Mostly because I think my blog should contain only things I write, but this morning one of my friends made me aware of something Jason Manford wrote a few days ago. I had never heard of Jason Manford, but he’s a comedian. Normally I let things like this slide right past me, but this piece was so well written that I felt emotions running through me, and it really deserves to be read and appreciated!

Now you know me, I like a laugh. And I do enjoy having a laugh with you lot on here, some of you are witty, some genuinely bonkers, a few of you are dead funny and most of you are respectful, thoughtful human beings and I am honoured that you have liked my page and my work over the years.

But.

Some of you are utterly horrendous. I mean genuinely thick as shit, heartless wastes of oxygen who I am ashamed have liked my page and my work.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of banter, I can take a joke, I can take an insult, sometimes people go too far, sometimes people get a bit personal but over the years I’ve dished it out and there is very little that anyone can say to me on here that has genuinely hurt me or upset me. Don’t forget I have been performing on stage for well over a decade, I’ve played some of the roughest, toughest scariest clubs in the world, from the middle eaast to East Croydon. I’ve been heckled and had nasty things shouted out by worse people than you, I’ve had things thrown at me, I’ve had people come on stage and try to attack me, I’ve even had people waiting in the car park at the end of the gig to give me a bit of one on one ‘advice’, so I think I can handle a few words written down on a Facebook page in the middle of the night by someone who wouldn’t dare say it to my face. 

 

And you know what, sometimes I court it. I occasionally come on here, bored, not able to sleep and deliberately put something on that I know will spark a discussion, will get the trolls from under their little bridge or get people writing emotive things in the spur of the moment. I like it. I think it is when social media is at it’s best.

 

But tonight I was saddened, not for me, I’m not arsed, like I said, ‘do your worst’ (I’ll just delete it and pretend it never happened-the ultimate heckle put down).

 

But during the Olympic closing ceremony I posted this:

 

“Fair play Gary Barlow. What a superstar. Don’t think I could perform after 

such a tragedy, amazing.”

 

I was referring, of course, to the Barlow family’s recent tragedy, their stillborn baby girl, Poppy who was born and died last weekend. 

 

I’m not a Take That fan, I mean I like them, but I don’t own any of their music but I really like Gary Barlow, I’ve never met him (he sent me an email once asking if I could do a charity thing for him) but he seems like a thoroughly lovely chap.

 

Now after I posted this comment, I just got on with my night, sorting out my own family and half watching the rest of the ceremony. Then I came back, as I always do, and checked the comments. At the time of writing this blog the comments had 10,936 ‘likes’, had been viewed by 101,000 people and had 334 comments. Most of these comments are in agreement but some, oh man, some will make you wince.

 

Now I’m not talking about people doing jokes, I get that, i don’t like it, it’s not my kind of humour but I get it. Something horrible happens and the gags fly round before the bodies are even cold; 9/11, Madeline McCann, I’m sure even this latest little girl Tia Sharp has more jokes said about her than sympathy flowers outside her home. Again, you know my humour, that’s not me, i don’t appreciate it, I don’t tell them but at the same time, it doesn’t upset me and I don’t get angry about it because, generally, they’re just jokes.

 

What does get to me, and what does anger me, are people’s genuine opinions. A joke is a joke, we’ve all told an off colour joke to a close friend, knowing full well that it’s not you’re actual opinion. But some of the comments I saw in those 334 would make your blood run cold.

 

In no particular order, here are the people who disappointed me tonight.

 

First up is person A who according to his profile lives near me and is a fan of Cheryl Cole and the American TV show, ‘Medium’. His favourite, and only, activity is ‘drinking’ as is his only interest. Let’s assume he’s been drinking tonight, but he wrote:

 

“money first with mr barlow lol”

 

Now firstly, I suspect that he never actually ‘loled’ at his own comment since, well, it’s not funny and secondly it’s not factually correct. As a great many of you pointed out, none of the acts got paid for either Olympic ceremonies, they got paid £1 each for contracts but that wouldn’t even get you a hotdog in the Olympic park (they’re £3.40, I was there last week).

 

More to the point, of all the people to accuse of putting money first, don’t launch it at Gary Barlow. The guy has worked tirelessly over the last few years, organising countless charity and free gigs for the people of this country and abroad, The Children in Need gig at the MEN Arena, the Jubilee celebrations, as well as his continued support of Comic Relief, Help the Heroes, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and lots of others beside.

 

Anyway, that’s just the beginning. Person B writes:

 

“Appalling! Just a week and he’s put money and his job before his family. If he was my husband he’d be out on his ear! I don’t think it was brave or legendary!”

 

And follows it up with: 

 

“I’m sure he did (do it for his country) but it won’t do him any harm when that song sells copies again and makes him some money! He does nothing for free, he’s completely up himself! Really don’t like the bloke. He put his job before his family tonight, that’s disrespectful to his wife who probably needs him more than ever right now! And to think I felt sorry for him!”

 

And then for equal measure:

 

“He hasn’t been respectful to them (his family)! I respect his wife 100% and my heart goes out to her and her other children. My son is my life, I’d die if anything happened to him but if my husband left is to go to work before our child had even had a funeral, I’d never forgive him!”

 

Now, I know it’s 2012 but I’m always surprised when you get a comment like this from a woman, and a mother no less. There really is a catch 22 with doing charity work when you’re famous. I mean, I am nowhere near as famous as Gary Barlow and I don’t support as many charities but this kind of cynical nature that a lot of people have really plays on your mind when you’re doing charity work. Like when the charity say ‘can we put this visit in the paper I always think ‘oh no, people will think I’ve just visited this hospital to get in the paper’ where as the charity are thinking “this would be great coverage for us”.

 

This woman says “it won’t do him any harm when that song sells copies again and makes him some money”. Now I don’t know what is going through Gary’s head at this time, but I’m pretty sure the already richer-than-all-of-us-put-together superstar at no point thought “I know my wife gave birth to a stillborn child the other day, but I really need to sell some more records”. 

 

What an unbelievably stupid thing to say person B. As for it being ‘disrespectful to his wife’ and ‘putting his job before his family’ again, shut the fuck up. You do not know what goes on behind closed doors. For all you know, Gary could have spent the week sobbing his heart out in his bed, under the duvet and saying to his wife, ‘darling, I don’t think i can ever perform again’ and his wife could quite possibly have said ‘Gary, please sing that special song for me and Poppy, it will make us all so proud’. Now I don’t know either, but for you to presume the worst just because you ‘don’t like the bloke’ or think he’s ‘completely up himself’ is a disgusting trait in a human being. 

 

Also being a performer is different from any other job. I’ve had family members pass away, I’ve had very upsetting things happen to me whilst on tour, but you can’t ring up the office and hope you get through to one of the cleaners to explain that you might not be in work today. You can’t go into work and just sit at the back quietly until the boss comes over and tells you to take a few days off. ‘The Show Must Go On’ is one of the most overused cliches in the entertainment world, but it’s because it’s true. If thousands of people have bought a ticket and are waiting to see you perform, have sorted out babysitters, have travelled from all over the country or the world to see you, then quite often, you put your personal problems to one side, and you give them the show that they want. And you know what, your wife fucking supports you because that is who she married; she married a driven professional caring guy, who respects that people have worked hard for their money and so you work hard for yours.

 

Okay. Moving on. Person C says: “he aint the only one thats had bad news, others have to get on with it.”

 

Now this is one of those kind of arguments you get on social media all the time. I remember putting something up when Amy Winehouse died saying I felt sad about it, and someone put ‘what about all the troops that die every day’. Yeah, I feel bad for them too. The human heart isn’t built in such a way that means we can only empathise with one thing at a time, I can quite easily feel sorry for Amy Winehouse’s family AND our injured or dying troops, at the SAME time; my heart is that fucking good! 

 

Where does that argument leave us as a race? We pride ourselves on being able to empathise with our fellow human, it is one of the things that separates us from the animals, the ability to feel someone else’s sorrow. Of course we have bad news in our lives, but why can’t we feel for the Barlows AND feel our own problems to.

 

Okay, last one. And I actually went from hating this guy to just thinking, maybe he just wrote something without thinking and is now, quite rightfully, getting it in the neck.

 

Person D writes:

“It’s not quite the same as losing a child who’s actually lived properly though, so why are people making out like it is? If the kid was like 5 years old it’d be 100x worse!”

 

Yes, read it again, someone did, not only think this, but also wrote it down online. I mean, where does this end? So you love a child more the older it gets? When is the cut off point? What are the maths behind it? Do we love our ten year olds twice as much as our 5 year olds? When they reach twenty does our adoration double again? 

 

From the follow up posts of Person D I can see that he is neither a father, nor a lover of children but still, what a very odd, inhumane and heartless thing to think and write. I suppose it goes back to the argument of when does life begin? I personally think it begins when you and your partner decide that you want this child. And that is when love starts too. I mean it’s obvious that for a mother, the bonding process starts sooner than for a father. The mother goes through all the emotions, the cravings, the pains, the sickness, the worry, she feels the kicks, the pressure on her bladder, her swollen feet, her baby brain, her body changing, her mind changing, the nesting, the tears and the laughs that come during the 38 weeks. She is the one who can’t get comfortable in the night, who is cold when everyone else is hot and hot when everyone else is cold, who is trying not to waddle, who is still doing too much when she should be resting, who is doing her pelvic floor exercises and who just wants a healthy baby at the end of it.

 

But the Dad is bonding too all this while. He is scared, he is worried, both for his baby and his wife. From the moment his wife comes in with the ClearBlue, he is on it. He is thinking about the extra mouth that needs feeding, he is wondering where he is going to get the energy from to go through it all again, he is wondering how long he can afford to take off work, he is worried for his wife, he wants to keep her happy, but she’s crying and throwing up and keeps leaving the key in the door, and he comes home from work and she’s up some step ladders, 7 months pregnant putting up some curtains and he shouts, scared that he could lose them both at any moment. He goes to the hospital with her, he hears the heartbeat and his eyes fill with tears, partly with relief but also with ultimate pride, that this woman has done this for him, has given her body, and mind and maybe even her career so that they can, together, bring a child into the world. 

 

He rubs her feet, he makes her tea, he does his job and then comes home to look after his family, he holds her hair whilst she is sick, and he tells her that she doesn’t look fat even though she obviously does because there’s a baby in her womb! He kisses her tummy while she sleeps and he sings songs to this huge bump with his baby inside. And all the time he worries. About the future. Will he be a good Dad, will the child be healthy, will he do the right things and set good examples, will he be as good as his Dad and will the child love him as much as he loves the child.

And together the future parents plan. They paint rooms, Blue or Pink, or keep it neutral because they want the surprise on the day. They buy cots, and clothes, and bedding and nappies and cotton wool balls and one time he’s out and he sees an outfit that says “Been inside for 9 months” and he buys it because it makes him smile, and he knows his wife will smile too. They go to the hospital and they see the baby on the screen and they hold each other’s hand and smile and he tells her how brilliant she is and she says she couldn’t do it without him. 

They discuss names and she makes lists, they buy a buggy and a car seat and then the big day comes, and she shouts him from the other room, or calls him at work and says ‘it’s happening’. And even though he’s prepared, even though the bag has been packed for weeks and he’s worked the quickest four routes to the hospital, his mind goes blank and he doesn’t know where he is for a minute. Then she helps him, they do it together. 

They get to the hospital, they’re way too early but the contractions have started, and they will go on for the next few hours. She can’t get comfortable, she walks, she sits, she kneels, she perches. He paces and he watches, and he rubs her back and he holds her hand. The contractions get closer, the midwife tells them both that the baby is on the way and then they’re off, after 9 months of waiting they’re finally going to get to meet their new baby. He gets dressed up like George Clooney in ER, and she smiles even though she is in the most pain she has ever been in her life. They go in together, the excitement is tearing through his body, as the pain tears through hers. 

And then the moment comes, they’re both waiting to find out if they’ve had a little boy or girl. They’re waiting to find out who they need to look after for the rest of their lives, who will one day look after them when they can no longer. They’re waiting, hoping, praying that this little tiny helpless human being, will keep them awake for the next few months, will cry in the night and will need changing every 5 minutes. They wait for the cry and for the midwives and doctors to turn to them and say “here’s your baby guys, well done……”

And then, nothing.

Nothing. For the longest time. Nothing.

But then, Person D, it’s not quite the same as losing a child who’s actually lived properly, is it?

-By Jason Manford

I only have a few things to say about this, mostly because anything that I say will look pale in comparison, but O M G. He hits the nail on the head again and again, and I couldn’t agree more!

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