As is the way of social media, I have had my fair share of disagreements and detractors, been denigrated and had my poor Mother, who has nothing to do with any of it, disrespected.
Today, however, was the first time I can say with certainty, that I have been "trolled". I have to say, the experience was in turn vaguely amusing, mildly irritating and finally plain boring.
It all began when the "troll" in question, whom I had no prior experience of, took exception to the question asked in a poll I had generated on Twitter. His reply made it quite clear that we were poles apart on the issue in question. It was also entirely unoriginal and not a little stupid.
My retort was succinct and straightforward and, I have to admit, designed to provoke a response. I was not disappointed. When it came, the response was accompanied by a link to a article which was intended to back up his assertion.
Again, his response was weak, in that what he said could just as easily be applied to that which he sought to defend, as that which he was criticising. And I said as much.
By way of rebuttal, he totally disregarded what I had just said, choosing instead to tweet an entirely different and unrelated example of how he was right and I was wrong. Needless to say, there was yet another attachment offered up as supporting evidence.
Then the tweets, each with an accompanying article, came in thick and fast. It was then that the penny dropped. There was no reasoning with this individual. His were simply a series of well rehearsed diatribes on the subject in question. It was at this point that it was brought to my attention, by someone in the loop, that my troll had form.
Despite informing said troll that the biased, right-wing, unionist-imperialist propaganda he had been sending my way, was a waste his time, and mine, still the tweets came. When I told him I was not buying what he was selling, still they came.
In the end, I simply stopped replying. You may ask why I did not just block him. And my answer would be that I get the feeling these people believe being blocked is something of an achievement.
The whole experience was nothing more than an exercise in futility. Once I had twigged as to what was going on, it was clear that my troll was never going to be brought round to my way of thinking. Apart from anything else, once beyond the tweet that had set him off, he had not paid the blindest bit of attention to anything I had said. Even so, it must have been clear to him, that I was never going to convert to his cause.
I have never quite understood people who listen to, read or watch something or someone that they know full well they do not like, nor agree with and are infuriated by, and then go on to hurl abuse and personal insults. Turn the page or change the channel if it upsets you that much.
It is an entirely different matter when we wish to educate and inform ourselves about something which we do not know a great deal about. In those circumstances, we will not know what we agree or disagree with, nor adore or deeply dislike, until we have engaged fully with the subject matter in hand.
Come the second independence referendum, it is to those who are looking to be educated, informed and persuaded that we need to focus our efforts. We ourselves, must not abuse, berate and bludgeon the undecided into submission. By all means, call out, disprove and expose misinformation wherever it is found, forcefully if needs be. But, only credible, reasonable, rational but impassioned persuasion will right the wrong of 2014.