Know your dating enemies: Science fiction

There are three things you should really avoid talking about on a first date. Food, politics and science fiction.  Star Wars, Star Trek, comic books, Doctor Who, Alien, the lot. Just avoid it if you can until you’re “going steady”, because if the sci-fi chat comes out too early on, the chances are you’ll have an intergalactic battle on your hands before you even get to the bedroom.

So why is sci-fi a no-no? Put simply, it is extremely political, and sci-fi fans get very touchy when you don’t get their hobby.

If you’re not into it and the other half is, you will find yourself competing with Batman and/or Spidey for your lover’s affections. And Batman will always win – he’s Batman.

There’s nothing wrong with liking sci-fi, it’s just if you’re going to do it, you have to do it right . It’s a lifestyle choice, and unless you’re committed, you’ll screw it up. You’ll call someone a “Whovian” and before you know it, you’ll be a permanent resident of social Siberia.

If you’re not a sci-fi or fantasy fan, trips to the cinema will be ruined for you, as every other new release is based on a comic book, and he will want to see them all. You never realised you could become tired so quickly of watching buff blokes suited up in rubber bounce around a giant screen.

There will be conventions too. You will avoid these at first and just leave your man to his hobby, but this is a mistake. Conventions are a hotbed of drunk, awkward regrettable sex. Don’t believe me? A room – nay a hangar – absolutely packed to the rafters with people dressed up as your lover’s favourite characters? Have you seen these outfits? There is an ocean of flesh on display, and some of it is toned and tattooed and on its way to steal your man.

So you’ll go to them, you will traipse around after your man while he gets his forearm signed by the guy who played Adric in Doctor Who (Google it) so he can have it inked on permanently later. Your lack of enthusiasm won’t be accepted, by the way, so if you want to cling on to your Klingon (sorry), you’re going to have to fake it to make it.

And then there is all the merchandise. There’s nothing huge entertainment companies like more than foisting their substandard “who is that supposed to be?” merch on their franchise’s unsuspecting fans. Every time you sneeze at your boyfriend’s flat, ten R2-D2 pepper pots will fall over, and you’ll awake after a night of passion with a Starship Enterprise alarm clock staring you back in the face.

Comic books, action figures, DVD boxsets (all unwatched), novelisations – this guy’s pad would make a fortune on eBay, if he ever took enough time off arguing on message boards to put it all on there.

“Why do you keep these?” you will say, picking up a dogeared annual from 1976.
He will mumble something about it being worth a bit of money, but this is just to shut you up – he has no intention of selling any of it, and he’s already plotting the delivery of his next tonne of ephemera.

And if, by any chance, you like sci-fi too, don’t think you’ll escape the hell. For a start, it is very unlikely you will like the same branch of sci-fi, or even the same company who makes it. Arguing over which is better out of Marvel and DC Comics is the biggest cause of divorce among sci-fi couples – that’s actual science fact.

Even if you both – miracle upon miracle – like the same brand of sci fi, there’s no escape from conflict. I watch Doctor Who, so I have often used this to hoist myself up on the first rung of any sexual ladder I hoped to climb upon meeting a sci-fi guy I have wanted to sleep with. This was usually met with derision and quick-fire release of cliches like “It’s a kid’s show” or “It’s too confusing nowadays”, but if by any chance they liked it too, there would be immediate tests to check how authentic a fan I was.

“Who was your favourite Doctor growing up?” Peter Davison. This occasionally elicited an eye-roll.
“Who’s your favourite modern Doctor?” This was a tricky one. If you say David Tennant, you’re boring, and if you say Matt Smith, well, “you’re just pandering to the Moffat mafia”. No, I don’t know what that means either.

The rivalry between fans of the same show can get disturbingly granular.

”But what’s your favourite episode of Doctor Who?” said one date. There are right and wrong answers to this, by the way. No such thing as opinion when it comes to Doctor Who.

I’d read enough Digital Spy forums to know there were some episodes that could never in a million years be anyone’s favourite, so obviously being king of the trolls, I picked it.

“Fear Her,” I said, before motioning for the waiter to bring the bill. I was alone in my flat googling pictures of Jamie Dornan within the hour.

So if you’re on the verge of dating a Superman lover, think long and hard about whether you can compete with the Man of Steel. If you can cope with a roomful of Wookie action figures, being blanked by your boyfriend’s mates because Amy Pond was your favourite Doctor Who companion, sitting through a 35-year-old episode of Blake’s 7, then go for it. But you’ll need to go totally native. You’d better get on eBay pretty quickly – you’ve got a flat to fill.

FYI: I am really looking forward to the new Star Wars movies and, yes, Amy Pond is my favourite Doctor Who companion, so fuck you.

More like this:
Know your dating enemies: The bicycle
25 men you should never date this summer
10 tests every potential boyfriend must pass before you commit
Why he’ll never call you back after that fantastic first date

Image: Flickr

We are all terrible on social media – we just won’t admit it

We are all very fond of gossiping about what everybody else is up to and how they live their lives. This isn’t new – nosey neighbours have been slagging off the colour of their nearest and not-so-dearest’s net curtains for decades, but now it is so much easier to stick your oar in.

Ever since the very first messageboard opened and newspapers appended that dreadful/amazing “Add comment” feature, we’ve been waxing loud and proud about what everyone else should be doing in a very vague, annoying way. And that’s fine, really.

Social media, however, is different because when it comes to people we know, we don’t really say what we mean. Sure, we will bitch to friends or on Twitter about the stupid stuff people do on social media – photographing lunches, posting endless inspirational quotes, ripping off old memes and passing them off as their own – but rarely do we tackle the offender head on.

Why? Well, it simply wouldn’t do. While commenting on things from a distance is fine, calling somebody out directly for curating their social media in an irritating manner would be bad form. And quite right too.

An anonymous group of mums in Australia have ripped up this unwritten rule book, however, putting poison pen to paper to tell a fellow young parent that her constant baby updates were getting on their nerves. The letter (pictured below) was very direct – they were Australians after all – and extremely unkind and left its recipient reeling. Especially thanks to the lack of signature at the end of this malicious missive.


Big opinions, but no balls big enough to put their name to it. How would she know which of her friends she’d pushed over the edge? She wouldn’t, of course. The letter was made all the more powerful because Jade would never know who she’d ticked off – thus she would, by her detractor’s reckoning, have to temper her behaviour to everyone, just in case.

Thanks in part to a slew of Big Brother contestants or talk show participants who think arguing is as much a part of daily life as fake-tanning your legs or going to the shop for milk, there’s a whole generation of idiots parroting “If I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it to your face”.

It’s that empty, cheerless promise from somebody who thinks their opinion is too vital, too Earth-shattering to go unheard. They wear this bizarre form of confrontational honesty as a badge of honour. It seems they really do believe going up to somebody and telling them you hate them is a kindness and masquerading under the delusion that people actually like you is a fate worse than eviction in week one.

We are taught that saying exactly what we think is empowering and that we should speak our mind, but this is seriously flawed. It may be empowering and cathartic for the great big windbag who’s spouting forth, but for the person on the receiving end, it is demoralising, belittling.

This is not an exchange of power or a debate – it’s a hairdryer on full speed blasting at a snowflake.

We all joke about how terrible everyone else is on social media, perhaps not realising we are all as bad as each other. One man’s baby pic is another man’s livetweeting of a TV show. Endless shots of cupcakes drive me mad, while incessant plugs for blog posts or features (guilty!) probably make others want to rip the router out of the wall. We are all thirstier than ever.

Friends once joked to me (I hope) that sometimes they’d wonder if something they posted would make me roll my eyes and stopped themselves. Some pseudo-bullies would be proud of that, but I felt ashamed. Am I really stopping them – people I care about – expressing themselves? We think there’s a straightforward hierarchy, a linear scale of what’s bad and good, but we are wrong. Awful is in every corner.

We get to decide what we read, yes, but we don’t get to call the shots on what they post. The etiquette is to have a good old bitch and moan about everyone’s social media disasters, but not right out where they can see. Talking behind people’s backs is an underrated act – it’s the kindest thing to do.

You are not in Room 101, nobody’s making you watch. Hide them from your timeline, mute, defriend, unfollow, disconnect.

And then go take another picture of that latte – I’m sure it’s totally different from yesterday’s, right?


Image: A pack of bastards/Facebook

More like this:

29 social media truths we’d never say out loud
Social media: Form of self-help or enabler of self-doubt?
12 things you do that scream “thirsty”
Ease up on the Twitter flirting, boys – I’m trying to eat my breakfast

If you say “man up”, I hope you catch manflu

Language is a wonderful thing: constantly evolving and introducing us to new words and ways of expressing ourselves.

Every year, usually on an exceptionally slow news day, the nation’s press prints any new additions to the Oxford English Dictionary, which usually derive from textspeak or TV programmes and quite often have only been uttered by a very select few, perhaps within earshot of an open window at the OED. It’s a harmless PR exercise, really, and nobody is suggesting these new words will be anywhere near the dictionary in even a few months’ time.

But occasionally the evolution of language should be curbed. While buzzwords and slogans help us communicate more easily, especially over 140 characters, if there is one tiny phrase that makes my teeth itch and my brain burn in irrational fury it’s the detestable “man up”.

Man up. What can it mean? I first heard it a few years ago and found it vaguely amusing. It’s the natural successor, I guess, to “grow a pair”, which in itself took “grow a spine” and “get a backbone” away from the vertebrae and into the groin.

Getting a backbone, however, didn’t associate courage or hardiness with being a man. Now, however, if you’re not coping very well with something, are ill or just don’t want to do something – all situations which can elicit a ‘man up’ from a helpful passer-by – you’re seen as the opposite of masculine. Sometimes, you just want to say: “I’m fucked. I’m depressed. I’m drowning. Am I alone?” But you can’t. You’re a man, baby. Not a baby, man.

You can only be more masculine if you accept things and battle on, irrespective of feelings, be they your own or anyone else’s.

And women are saying it too, even to each other. Facebook updates and Twitter posts are littered with people encouraging each other to “man up'” It’s replacing stalwarts like “get well soon” and “I must just get on with it” or “mustn’t grumble”.

If admitting you’re having a bit of difficulty is the opposite of manly, then I have never been so pleased to be a lady. Shove your “Masc4Masc” garbage right up as far it can go. At least I’m not a closed-off, emotional weirdo who uses zingy catchphrases to avoid talking about his feelings. Man up? Man off.

And, as author Matt Haig says: ” Suicide is officially the biggest killer of men under 50, and we still don’t like to talk about it. Let’s not man up. Let’s speak out.”

And don’t get me started on manbags or, horror upon absolute horror, mankles. I mean, seriously:

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.46.18

Guys, can we only get behind something or involved in a product if it contains the word “man”? Really? Are we that dumb?

Mansplaining, though, I actually like. I get it. It’s good shorthand for calling out a man behaving like a dickhead and talking down to (or over) women. It’s also a handy way to check yourself when interacting with anyone. “Am I mansplaining this? Should I maybe shut up and let this other person speak?”

Manspreading, too. Get over it, boys – your bad behaviour now has a name. And it doesn’t include the word ‘lad’.

“Manflu”, however, is another one I can’t abide. I come to dread getting a cold because as soon as I feel that first sniffle, I know I’ll be accused of over-egging it because of my terminal “manflu”.

I know I don’t have flu; I know what that’s like. You can’t get out of bed. Your head feels like it is full of bricks. That is flu. It’s “man up” territory all over again. I’m not allowed to be ill – let alone whinge about it – because I am supposed to be a “bloke”.

No. I just have a cold. I don’t want your sympathy, nor do I need your “manflu” crap.

What I do want is for you to catch this cold off me – that’ll show you.

More like this:

I still believe in internet anonymity – even when you’re being mean to me
Manspreading: Why we do it and why we need to stop
Sorry, ‘straight-acting’ boys, but gay stereotypes exist despite you… get over it
Do you really need a six-pack to make an impact?
Social media: Form of self-help or enabler of self-doubt?

7 online dating liars we all meet eventually

According to the Mirror, a recent survey claims a staggering amount of people lie on first dates. 37% of women lie about their age and 29% of men lie about their wage, for starters.

And that’s even before you get to the 14% of women who give a totally false name – I guess they don’t want you @-ing them with your totally amazing bantz after all, boys. Sorry.

Maybe we’d all like to pretend to be someone else once in a while, but it seems dating is the perfect stage for wannabe thesps to try out their best fibs. Here are a few of the most obvious ones you’ll meet.

1. The six-footer
If your date claims to be six-feet tall, I have some bad news: he probably isn’t. For reasons best known only to them, to be 6′ tall is the dream, the ultimate goal. And if you’re not? Why, just say you are – everyone else will fall into line and believe you.

Thanks to everyone being super-weird about height and no doubt tying it into masculinity or strength or power or whatever, it’s common for the more diminutive of us to fudge the stats a little, to add on an inch or two to our online profiles.

Quite how anyone expects to explain this to your date when you arrive and come up to their elbows is another matter entirely, but people still give it a go.

And the best thing is, he’ll probably say to you: “Oh, you’re not as tall as I thought you’d be.”

Tall people themselves don’t really help, lording it over everyone with those magical, aspirational heights of between 6′ to 6’4. Once you get beyond that however, the height-shaming slips into reverse and our loftier friends start knocking an inch or two off to avoid being labelled as giants.

In short (pardon the pun), nobody is as tall or as short as they say. Nobody.

2. The celebrity CPF
“Yeah, I actually know quite a few famous people.” Impressing people with your celebrity rolodex feels like a very old-fashioned thing to do.

It’s an early noughties, Met Bar, “All Saints at no. 1 in the charts”, “Popbitch messageboard getting threatening letters from J***** C*******” kind of thing. Nobody cares now.

A date who tries to impress you with celebrity gossip or his famous pals is full of shit – people who actually hang out with stars never talk about it until they know you or trust you. All this liar wants to do is get into your knickers; you should tell him his VIP pass isn’t valid and that the velvet rope is staying exactly where it is.

3. The guest list goon
It is great to go somewhere “nice” on a date, but there’s no way on earth a guy on a first date should be pulling out all the big guns. A couple of drinks in the local should suffice. The guy who tells you he can get you into certain clubs or chichi restaurants may well be telling the truth, but he is essentially trying to buy you for the night.

Like the celebrity bullshitter, he’s hoping all this star talk and Amex-fuelled opulence will go right to your head, so he can get straight into your strides. And he probably does it every weekend. With a different one every time. First dates like this rarely make it to a sequel.

And they never, ever, ever have as much money as they say they do. Proper rich people are too scared you’ll fritter it all away to fess up to millions on a first date. Unless they look like a llama’s arse.

4. “I’m over my ex. Totally over it.”
If someone is totally over their ex, they don’t talk about them. Especially on a first date. If somebody asks you about your ex on a first date, run! It is a trap! They just want to talk about their ex.

5. “I don’t really have sex on a first date.”
If this even comes up in conversation, they have already plotted how they’ll get you back to theirs, what they’ll do to you – or have you do to them – once you’re there and how long they’ll give it before asking you to leave.

Men just want you to *think* they don’t fuck on a first date because they assume it makes them look wholesome or respectful or… oh, I don’t know. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it, but spare us the halo-polishing.

6. “I’m 39.”
I get age sensitivity, I really do. I am, after all, 39. No, I actually am. But some boys tend not to be so truthful.

The trouble with lying about your age is that it suggests you’re not in it for the long haul. Eventually, you’ll have to introduce your partner to your family and, well, unless they’re remarkably compliant or incredibly thoughtless, they aren’t going to let your 40th birthday go unmarked.

If you can’t be with someone who accepts you at the age you are, then what’s the point? Unless you just want a few weeks of sex – in that case, knock five years off. You can tooooooootally get away with that, babes.

7. Physique fakers
Whether they’ve used a picture that was taken when Tony Blair was still hogging the doorstep of Number 10, or added a mille-feuille of filters, body type is still another big lie in the online dating world.

The thing is, your date may well not have cared that your supposed “athletic build” was honed by throwing darts and lifting Heinekens – but if you can lie about that, what other porkies are in your portfolio?

There’s a lot to be said for stamping out body fascism and accepting each other for who we are, but carrying out a social experiment on a date who’s been dreaming of doing a handstand on your purported six-pack is not the way to do it.

What are the biggest whoppers you’ve ever been told on a date? Tweet me baby.

More like this:
25 men you should never date this summer
How the internet makes liars of us all
10 terrible opening lines for a dating profile
Decoding dumb clichés on dating bios

Image: Flickr

All the men you should never date: The Know-it-all

“It’s exhausting to be right all the time,” the Know-it-all will tell you as he swirls his drink around his glass. “But I just can’t help myself. If I see an error, I have to correct it.”

You may find this charming at first. Knowledge can be quite sexy, after all.

“He’s so clever,” you’ll gush to your slack-jawed friends. You revel in your new role as Marilyn Monroe to his Olivier, drinking in his fun facts, grammatical corrections and recommendations like lattes.

But the trouble with a know-it-all is that sometimes they… don’t.

But the trouble with a know-it-all is that sometimes they… don’t. They make a mistake. And you might be the one to spot it.

Whether it’s the eternally arousing question of whether to use ‘less’ or ‘fewer’ or a seemingly irrelevant factlet about the Spice Girls, your little boffin likes to be the one doing the correcting.

You’ll hear “It’s bored with not bored of, remember,” much more often than “I love you” and there’s no room for an upstart like you wading in with your addenda.

Day after day come the Twitter-storms – his inability to keep his nose out and his talent for getting a bee in his knickers about the most stupid of things meaning he has little time for anything that doesn’t involve putting the world to rights via his long-suffering keyboard.

You will come to dread the phrase “I think you’ll find…” and saying something you have the remotest doubt about becomes a nightmare.

 Don’t fuck somebody who can’t admit when they’re wrong.

You live on a permanent knife-edge that every thing you say will be met by a small, deliberate sigh, a slow push of the spectacles back up the bridge of your paramour’s nose (there are always spectacles), and a withering look that tells you your very own Encylopedia Homosexualica is about to put you straight. Or perhaps, after a while, turn you straight.

He will never admit he’s got it wrong. The height of unsexy. Don’t fuck somebody who can’t admit when they’re wrong.

The solution: Either live in a permanent war zone of “No, you’re wrong!” continually checking Wikipedia to outsmart each other, or lay down the ground rules early on that nobody ever died because someone said “movie” instead of “film” or used “literally” figuratively every now and again.

He’ll dump you for a Countdown viewer in the end, of course, but it will be nice while it lasts. You will probably bump into him eventually on Grindr arguing over “you’re/your” – instead of getting sex like everybody else.

Image: Flickr

This post originally appeared in a different form in Gay Times magazine, where I have a monthly column All The Men You Should Never Date, plus a page where I help with readers’ dilemmas. You can get the latest edition and back issues online at

25 men you should never date this summer

This is it, then. It’s official. Regardless of the weather outside, the clocks going forward means British Summer Time is here.

While we may have a while longer until things start feeling like actual summer, consider this list a helpful warning of all the men you should avoid. While you nibble on picnic food, drown your sunburn in aloe vera and endure weeks of barbecue-related food poisoning, don’t let these 25 losers make things worse for you.

This summer, you should never date a man who…

1. Wants to “try that latest pop-up place” he’s just read about.
Summer is ruined by these ironic “burger n spiralized mango” joints springing up all over. Remember: if you’ve read about it in Time Out, or your local equivalent, so has everyone else. 
And they’re all in front of you in the queue, or hogging the waiter, or ordering the last thing of what you want. They’re all slightly better looking than you, too, aren’t they? Did you notice?

2. Wears crocs.
I know doctors and nurses, for example, like to wear these on the job, but once the scrubs come off, so should the grim blocks of plastic. Nobody ever got excited about feet that looked like a game of Hungry Hippos.

3. Exclaims “Pimm’s o’clock!” at any time.
Any man who does this should be dumped o’clock. At half past bin bags chucked out of a window. And seen again only on the twelfth of never.

4. Has ever queued for a burger at Five Guys.
The burger joint du jour could only be a worse experience if five actual guys whacked off in your burger as you ate it. The queue for and cost of Five Guys would be almost justifiable if when you got to the front, you were actually banged by five guys. In short: dump the one guy who likes Five Guys.

5. Becomes territorial over control of the barbecue.
I’m a great believer in the old adage “Why have a dog and bark yourself?” and prefer to take a back seat to grilling. Plus, I don’t want blood on my hands if someone carks it thanks to undercooked sausages.  Meaty double-entendres, jokes about vegetarians, singed eyebrows, sweating over your steaks – barbecue bores are the worst.

6. Says “let’s get a cab” when you could easily walk.
Or says “let’s walk it” when it really needs to be a cab journey. 

7. From May to September, forgets the location of all the shirts he owns .
OK, bae, you have a great bod, but whipping your top off every time the mercury hits 11º – even if we’re walking down the high street, or at a wedding – is overkill. Put a top on.

8. Gives a toss about, and criticises, what women wear.
Whether he’s whispering she’s too old for a bikini or patronisingly congratulating her on her “fantastic norks”, a man who reviews a woman’s wardrobe like a general inspecting his cadets has got to go.

9. Prefers Amelle’s version of Red Dress to Mutya’s.
He can’t possibly be sane.

10. Refuses to admit he is in the midst of potentially disfiguring sunburn.
“It’ll go brown eventually,” he will beam as his entire face falls off into your margarita.

11. Bores on about festivals .
Extra kick in the nuts for any whingeing about the Glasto lineup. And another for calling it “Glasto”.

12. Has no concept of a summer trouser. 
Is there a stronger strangler of ardour than a man sweating it out in nut-squeezing denim in soaring July temperatures?

13. Makes you go for picnics in the rain. 

14. And then cracks piss-weak jokes about the British weather as a mild monsoon engulfs you.

15. Says: “I can’t believe it’s May/June/July/August already! It’ll be Christmas before you know it!”

16. Buys unsmoked bacon.
What is it for? It doesn’t taste of anything. It’s just food that is happening to you. “Ooh the thing I really love about bacon is the texture,” said absolutely nobody, ever.

17. Wears flip-flops with JEANS.
Flip-flops are bad enough, let’s face it. But there is something about a flip-flopped foot – always overrun with hangnails and callouses – peeping out from under a frayed jean that makes me think of Simon Cowell on his holidays. For flip-flops and denim to work together, they need ankles, calves and knees between them.

18. Has a ‘leg day’.
Try a ‘personality day’.

19. Shaves or waxes his ‘treasure trail’.
Also, never date a man who calls it his ‘treasure trail’. Or crab ladder. Or wanker’s ‘tache. There just isn’t a nice way of saying it, is there?

20. Has ever tagged a photo with #instagay.

21. Congratulates you on your work anniversary on LinkedIn.

22. Takes pictures of themselves in their bedroom without having a good old tidy up first.
Pick your dirty shreds up, for goodness’ sake. Bonus poke in the eye for anyone not getting out the Windolene before taking mirror selfies. ‘Toothpaste Splashes’ is not an Instagram filter.

23. Makes that thrilling – and totally original – observational ‘joke’ about fat people drinking Diet Coke.

24. Says “Can I get a…?” when asking for something.
Unless it’s a witness or a “whoop whoop”.

25. Posts on the internet screenshots of men he doesn’t fancy from Grindr.
Anyone who screengrabs pictures of someone on a dating app or site just to get a cheap laugh is probably not going to be a very nice person. Writing an anonymous dating blog is fine, though.

More like this:

25 men you should never date in 2015
An additional 25 men you should never date
Another 25 men you should never date
Yet another 25 men you should never date
A further 25 men you should never date
25 men you should never, ever date

Image: Flickr

Yesbasicgays proves oversharers don’t care who’s watching – even the bullies

We all have that oversharing friend, don’t we? The one who posts millions of selfies or is always checking in on Facebook, drowning under the weight of their own humblebrags or passive-aggressive attention-seeking.

And only the very kindest of us wouldn’t have a quick sneer with other mutual friends – maybe fire off a bitchy text or a moany DM. “They’re at it again!” And that’s OK, that’s human nature. Unless you’re very careless or downright malicious, nobody finds out and nobody gets hurt.

One opportunistic person wanted to take this process one step further. And so, out of nowhere, appeared a brand new Tumblr – many an internet arsehole’s weapon of choice – dedicated to screenshotting these needy McReadys, and adding a pithy (in their head at least) caption under each one.

yesbasicgays, featured pic after pic of gay men – of all ages – posing in a mirror or at the business end of a selfie stick, all with the same twisted mouth expression as if to say “What? Me? Taking a selfie? Nah, mate!”

Perhaps it had seemed like a good idea at the time, but the creator didn’t have the comedy smarts to carry it off. His or her comments were mind-numbingly obvious and fatally witless, playground-quality jibes drafted in seconds just so the blog itself could quickly get enough pictures on there so the second prong of this fatuous attack could begin – a Twitter account!

If you are going to be nasty about someone on social media, or hold a mirror up to its various, much-documented ills, you at least have to do it with a bit of affection, intelligence and, dare I say it, wit. We all like to laugh at ourselves, and most of us know only too well how ridiculous we are – but shaming us for it, well, it comes off as a little “basic”, as our detractor might say.

I am perhaps a hypocrite, in that every week I write a blog about how useless the Guardian Blind Date participants are, and I can be quite mean, but I am careful only to make fun of what they say in the column, not their looks or personality. Or lack thereof. (This bit may not be true.)

yesbasicgays, however, was creepy and mean. Like those vipers who screenshot stupid conversations on Tinder and don’t blur out the guys’ faces (it’s always guys, let’s be real), this is just nasty, a really blatant attempt to go viral and to get yourself some glory.

There’s a lot to be said for social media and dating apps’ role in exposing bigotry, of course, but slagging off people just for taking a selfie in a bedroom that could probably do with a spring clean? Pointless.

There was a minor outcry on Twitter when people started to notice the blog, and in a show of sensitivity rare among internet bullies, the Twitter account and Tumblr were hastily removed before the internet’s flaming torches were even half-lit. And that was that. Except it wasn’t.

Once the anger had died down, there came a new wave of emotion about the Tumblr.

“Ooh, congratulations, you made it onto yesbasicgays! I’m so envious!”

“I can’t believe I wasn’t featured on yesbasicgays – I take loads of selfies. #bastards”

And so on. We went from horror that someone would be so unkind to do such a thing to extreme offence that we hadn’t been thought basic or pretty enough to be featured on this hopeless rogues’ gallery. And some of those that had been selected were thrilled – no such thing as bad publicity right? Incredible.

Perhaps to the oversharers, it doesn’t matter who’s watching or what they think of you as long as they notice. And if your friends aren’t liking your pics fast enough, at least there’ll be some internet troll out there trebling your audience with his mean-spirited Tumblr.

Are we a bit dim to be taking endless selfies and posting them online? Possibly. But so what? You don’t have to follow us. Do we deserve to be mocked on a vicious Tumblr? No. Should we be pleased a keyboard warrior noticed us enough to have a go? I’d rather hope not.

If your top three rows on Instagram are mostly pictures of yourself and not the world around you, perhaps it’s not an internet bully that you need, but a friend.

At least then you’ll have someone else to take your photo.

Image: Flickr


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