Everyone’s a critic

By William Hanson on November 19th, 2012

Living in the public eye has its advantages.

Having The X Factor’s Frankie Cocozza personally show me his tattooed bottom. Being sent saucy, unsolicited direct messages on Twitter by a Strictly Come Dancing participant. Discussing the length of socks with BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt, for three excruciatingly long minutes.

These are moments that make one realise how fortunate one is.

But it’s not all roses at the top. Twitter has given the general public an otherwise unheard voice. It’s democracy in action. Sadly, however, it seems like one in five of the general public struggle to compose themselves when presented with a keyboard. They know not what they tweet.

I’ve got a pretty thick skin, I like to think, and most of the abuse I get on Twitter and other sites does little but make me laugh. So much so that I often click that under-utilised yellow star next to the tweet to ‘favourite’ it so I can view it on demand at a later date and have a good chuckle.

One of my favourites games during long train journeys is to Twitter search my name or my job title soon after one of my televisual turns. Hours of fun! Apparently, if you come across as “posh”, people will hate you long before you’ve uttered the word “golly” and possibly before you’ve said anything at all.

To some poor souls, I feel compelled to reply, usually offering peace and love. I don’t expect everyone to like me, of course, but I do question whether they forget that an actual human being, with a loving family, friends and executive door-wedges is going to read what they tweet.

Here are some highlights from the past year.






Alas, Twitter seems to have mislaid many of the rather more abusive ones I have had over the year just gone. I presume the accounts in question have been locked out and they’ve been asked to troll elsewhere. In one instance, when I had replied to a piece of abuse the (female) abuser was so mortified with the fact I had seen her tweet she told me she was going to close down her Twitter account and never use it again as way of saying sorry.

I’ve no idea if she did.

To be perfectly frank, I don’t really mind the abuse. I’d rather have a hundred abusive tweets than one from one of my stalkers, who like to ask what I wear to bed, along with various other intimate questions. But the funnier, cleverer and more original the better, please.

I do tire so of those claiming I look like Anders Hans Breivik, or – infinitely more alarmingly – David Cameron crossed with a dolphin.

William Hanson is the UK’s leading etiquette and Royal protocol expert and a contributor to The Kernel on digital etiquette