Don Your Way column: Taking on the keyboard warriors and trolls in Doncaster

Darren Burke is hitting back at the keyboard warriors and trolls.
Darren Burke is hitting back at the keyboard warriors and trolls.

Welcome back to another Don Your Way column - although it seems my recent meanderings on Doncaster not always being that great ruffled more than a few feathers.

Now with more than two decades in this job under my belt, I’m used to grumbles and complaints, they are part and parcel of the job and us journalists need to have thick skins.

In what we now lovingly call the “good old days,” the angry mob used to descend, by telephone, on the day of publication if they took objection to something you’d written.

So Thursday mornings were sometimes filled with trepidation, knowing that a controversial story could illicit twenty minutes of someone ranting down the blower at you. And then that would be it.

The matter would be resolved and the phone would go dead for another seven days until the next paper came out and a fresh round of gripes might come in.

The digital era has changed all that. Now, people can let you know exactly what they think of your work within seconds of it being posted online.

And Facebook is the worst culprit. It was in this such arena that I was subjected to a spectacular volley of abuse from one irate reader (I’ll not name him) who had obviously gone to the University of Insults to take exception with this very column.

You may be eating your breakfast while reading this, so I’ll spare you the worst, but among the names levelled at me were “yellow-bellied” and “mind-numbingly boring and inept”.

I was also compared to something unmentionable and very uncomplimentary and which a family newspaper prevents me from repeating.

Oh, and he also couldn’t wait for the day I’d be “fired out of a cannon.”

Oscar Wilde it most certainly wasn’t.

However, the effort and wordsmithery he’d put into crafting such beautifully prepared insults was not to be sniffed at. Here was a man with a lot of hate and a forum in which to say it - and there was to be no holding him back.

I actually find the whole thing rather intriguing, amusing and at the same time, bizarre.

You expect not everyone to agree with you, but the amount of vitriol over a pretty innocent article was out of control.

Keyboard warriors and trolls now seem to be part of everyday life - everyone has got an opinion and a ready made place in which to say it.

Want to tell the world how downright angry you are? Then head to Facebook, say it and watch the likes and love hearts roll in.

Us journos seem to be one of a rare breed where we’re considered ripe for a daily kicking. Maybe sometimes we are, but I’ve had abuse chucked at me online for travel updates and reports of roadworks before now. Hardly phone hacking is it?

I think I’m going to start turning up at the workplaces of joiners, plumbers, chartered surveyors, ballet dancers and every profession under the sun and tell them their work is poor.

See how they like them apples!