Thursday 22 March 2018

Death threats and disgusting abuse... just for daring to criticise The Wanted

IT was close to 5pm yesterday evening when I noticed a peculiar-looking message in my inbox.

Somebody I don't know had decided to ‘follow' me on Twitter. It happens a lot. Quite often, you forget about it and delete the email. But this was no ordinary ‘follower'. This was a fan of The Wanted.

I knew what was coming next. Probably a few more messages; a handful of insults, a bit of name-calling – the usual. It happens sometimes when you give a much-loved band a bad review.

But this was no ordinary band. Indeed, The Wanted's teenage fanbase (or at least, the several hundred, maybe even thousands that took to Twitter last night) are a crazy bunch, to say the least. Scary, too. And they didn't take too kindly to my one-star review of the group's recent O2 concert in yesterday's Herald.

When I finally logged on to Twitter, my entire ‘mentions' page had spiralled out of control. Within 15 minutes, over 100 angry teenagers had checked in. They'd found me. This was it. This, folks, was the end. Chaos ensued. And you know what? I laughed. I laughed a lot. I laughed for hours, in fact, regularly checking in to read several hundred additions to what was becoming one of the more expletive-ridden topics trending on Twitter. I acknowledged their protests – but didn't respond.

Some of them called me ‘a dickhead'. Some threatened to beat me up. Most of them had a go at my appearance, accusing me of being jealous of The Wanted's excellent genes. More often than not, they just called me names and urged me to quit my job and disappear off the face of the earth.

Again, most of these tweeters were only kids. Yet, no matter how funny the entire ordeal is, it's also disturbing.

Take for example the, erm, ‘death threats'. It doesn't matter that I gave these kids' favourite band a bad review – some of them actually said that they'd kill me. And that's disturbing. Some of them tweeted disgusting insults about my appearance based on my Twitter profile picture. And that's disturbing. Where were their parents when these foolish children were busy frantically typing their hatred? Have these people never read a review in their lives?

Indeed, a review is a subjective piece of work – how could it not be? The end result is based on the opinion of one writer: take it or leave it. Do not, however, write a letter/email/tweet to the journalist to inform them that they are a ‘c***'.

Unfortunately the increasing popularity of Twitter has made it easier for people to abuse what was once a clever little social networking tool. Don't get me wrong – adults are just as bad when it comes to the Big Blue Bird and her ever-growing community of millions, but I'd love to know how many parents across Ireland were aware that their kids were sending abusive messages to a journalist yesterday.

In short, what I saw on Friday night was easily one of the worst pop concerts I've attended in a long time. But that isn't to say that I don't have time for boybands. Westlife? Solid showmen. JLS? Terrific entertainers. Take That? In a league of their own. But The Wanted? Please. Go back to bed, lads. And to the several thousand fans who took offence to my review… well, it's good to know that the younger tweeters of Ireland are still reading newspapers.

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