Remarkably, I’ve been on Twitter since 2006 – so getting on for ten years. And in that time I’ve always tried to be cordial. I don’t get involved in slanging matches, or go looking for idiots to retweet exclaiming my “shock and anger” that there are in fact, fools with internet access.
That’s not to say that I haven’t spoken my mind on the platform. If I thought something was bad or poor, I’ve said so. But for the most part I like to think my existence on the platform has been a positive one. And broadly I won’t say anything about someone on the platform that I wouldn’t say to their face.
So it was very surprising when I came across a link suggesting that Matt Lucas – of Little Britain fame – was doing some funny stuff on Vine. I clicked through on his Twitter handle, since Vine is owned by Twitter, and Vines usually show up in someone’s Twitter timeline.
I was met by the following:
You are blocked from following @RealMattLucas and viewing @RealMattLucas’s Tweets.
I’ve never seen this before!
To be clear, if you block someone, you’ve actively done something – either found the account and clicked on block, or done so from a Tweet you’ve sought out.
What could I have done to offend him?
It should be said that I wasn’t a massive fan of Little Britain, finding it repetitive and childish. But I tend to talk and write about things that I like rather than don’t like. But looking back, I’ve made a couple of sniffy remarks about it over time: Here and here are the only two very mildly negative examples I can find.
On the other hand, I liked Lucas in Shooting Stars, and he’s an Arsenal fan which is always going in his favour (Although so is Piers Morgan so…). I did enjoy his turn in Doctor Who over Christmas as well.
I’ve never followed him on Twitter, and I’m certain that he’s never followed me.
But a bit of searching did lead me to this written in February 2013:
Matt Lucas really is irritating on Graham Norton. The tone is just off – trumping other guests the whole time.
— Adam Bowie (@adambowie) February 15, 2013
A bit negative, and not necessarily constructive. But really irritating is about the worst I’ve said about him which is certainly not the harshest criticism ever written of anybody. I suspect many people find me very irritating too at times. C’est la vie.
Would I have said it to his face? No. To be honest I wouldn’t have, at least not unless I knew him fairly well and could be honest about an appearance.
Note that I didn’t “@” him into the Tweet – which I think is really bad manners. And I’m aware of “subtweeting” – being rude about someone without mentioning them.
But I’d guess that either he, or a representative of his, has some kind of search running, and if you’re negative, you’re blocked.
Clearly the blocking took place nearly three years’ ago, and I’ve been in blissful ignorance about it until now. Some wear their blocks as a badge of honour, and others have to use the mechanism to stop bullying and other unsavoury things happening to them. There are clearly particularly malicious groups that roam the internet targeting people.
And I do have to confess to blocking a few people myself. Checking my account I see I’ve blocked 22 people in total. Nearly all are accounts that either were “dubious” and tried to follow me (e.g. porn), or were accounts that started out sensibly but perhaps were taken over by scam artists. I can only see one “proper” account that I’ve blocked, and that’s purely so I don’t see that person’s inanity retweeted by others. Yes, they are (arguably racist) idiots. No, I don’t need to see proof via retweets. It’s like avoiding the drunken racist fool in the corner of the pub. I wouldn’t go and sit near them, and I don’t need my timeline polluted by them.
Everyone is well within their rights to block someone. I find it slightly curious to block someone that you’ve not followed unless they’re in danger of being widely retweeted. But that’s your prerogative.
So there you have it.
I feel a little bit hurt somehow. Not enough that I won’t get over it though. And I won’t take it personally. For what it’s worth, judging from this week’s episode, I’ll be avoiding Miriam Margolyes on Graham Norton in future too. As will Matthew Perry I suspect. I suspect that she’s not on Twitter. But if she is, she’s welcome to block me.