x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Tweeter or twit?

As English boxer Curtis Woodhouse reminded us at the weekend, mean tweets hurt, just like a nasty letter or an angry phone call.

Social media has made it even easier to build connections. But usually these connections - with friends we know or celebrities we wish we knew - stay firmly centred in the virtual world.

Yet social media is not, contrary to popular opinion, an echo chamber of anonymity. Mean tweets hurt, just like a nasty letter or an angry phone call.

English boxer Curtis Woodhouse reminded us of that at the weekend. After he lost his light-welterweight title to another boxer, one fan hit a sore spot via Twitter, accusing Woodhouse of being past his prime, a "complete disgrace" in the ring.

But the boxer didn't simply turn off his computer. He offered his Twitter followers a reward to provide him the address of @jimmyob88. Within hours Woodhouse snapped a photo of the very street where the real-life heckler lives, and posted it to his Twitter account. That sent enough fear into the living room of an apology.

The ethics of Woodhouse's "I'm-coming-for-you" Tweets notwithstanding, the lesson is clear: if you can't say it to someone's face, don't say it at all. Especially not to a boxer.