Friday 15 May 2015

Of Mice and Stalkers

Of Mice and Stalkers

The word "stalker" conjures up images of deranged people, skulking in dark alleys, watching their victims from the shadows. For some people, this is still very much the case, but the advent of social media has produced a new breed of stalker. The dark alley has been replaced by a keyboard and a computer screen.

For the past six months, I, and many other people, have been the target of one man. A man who, particularly at his age, should have better things to occupy his time. A man who cannot accept rejection and simply refuses to move on with his life.

Around two years ago, he fell foul of another Twitter user, who asked him to leave him alone. One would think that would be enough, but no. In the past year he has mentioned the user in question over 150 times. He could not accept that he had been blocked, and felt an overwhelming desire to mention it at every given opportunity.

A young man challenged his behaviour, posting screenshots proving exactly what he was doing. He was duly, and unceremoniously booted off of Twitter, after the aggressor reported him, despite him breaking an uneasy truce, in which the two agreed never to mention each other again.

Shortly after this, I found myself continually being dragged into his dramas. He plays the role of victim beautifully, and I could stand no more. I warned him, repeatedly, that he was heading for a block, and eventually that was precisely what he got.

Now, I understand how the other user, from two years ago felt. He trawls through my mentions, surreptitiously replying to my followers. When challenged, of course, he denies this, proclaiming it to be a coincidence. Coincidences seem to follow him around like a bad smell, as they pop up with startling regularity. He claims, repeatedly, that he does no such thing, and that he is merely sent screenshots of the timelines of numerous users, a claim which holds no validity, and is easily disproven using third party apps to check mutual followers. Equally, he claims to have only ever had one account. This, again, is a blatant lie, and a cursory search on Twitter clearly demonstrates, via his own words, that he has used multiple accounts.

A casual Google search of his name reveals that this pattern of behaviour goes back at least three years, and extends beyond the confines of Twitter, but what is clear is that his actions are deliberate, calculated and highly manipulative. He uses charities to mask his activities, plays people off against each other, and during debates switches "sides" to ensure he receives as much attention as possible. On Twitter alone, I know of almost FORTY users who have complained about his behaviour. At least two that I am aware of were particularly concerned when he asked to meet them in person. Thankfully, they had the good sense to decline this invitation. These are good people, with no axe to grind, and in many cases, users who have no particular connection to each other. To hear his side, however, he presents this as an orchestrated campaign being waged against him, as if, collectively, 40 people have conspired to destroy the reputation of a man they neither know, or want to to know. Some have reported his behaviour to the police, who I am assured are looking at his activities, which even extend to "accidentally" tweeting another user, with, again, mental health issues, a photograph in which his genitals were exposed. He claims not to have noticed, and subsequently deleted the photo.

This is a man who claimed to be an "anti bullying ambassador", yet when asked to provide names of organisations he had worked with, was able to produce nothing, claiming "confidentiality". Another user, a serving police officer warned him about misrepresenting himself, as he was claiming to work directly with the victims of bullying. Beyond running a list on Twitter, there was, and still is, no evidence of him ever working with any anti bullying organisation, or the victims of bullying. He frequently make bold, self aggrandising statements in order to curry favour with people and present himself as a man with more talents than he actually has. 

I raise this, because, he blames myself, and a number of others, who have allegedly "bullied him" into closing his "campaign". This is clearly untrue, and if he had evidence that anyone had ever done so, he was, and still is, invited to present it. It is no coincidence, I am certain, that he shut it down one DAY after speaking to the aforementioned police officer.

Now, he has a new tactic, using mental health as a shield for his activities. A fellow user recently suggested that he should be checked by a mental health team. For two days, he has exploited that tweet, in an attempt to garner as much sympathy as is humanely possible. Even his closest allies, those most vocal in his defence, have distanced themselves, with one truly appalled at his exploitation of the mentally ill. That particular user, fed up with his antics, duly blocked him. Naturally, I was to blame, despite the fact that we never speak, and mutually block each other. She promptly set that particular record straight, although, as if by magic, he overlooked that fact. After all, it doesn't fit with his narrative. Of course, now he claims, albeit vaguely, to have a mental illness himself, and that, again, I, and others, are "bullying" a man with such a condition.

He has given NO thought to the people with mental health issues whom he has pursued. Nor to people with other serious, often life threatening conditions. He would rather you spare your sympathies for him.

As many of you know, my health is poor. I suffer from depression, an anxiety disorder, chronic headaches, and two years ago, from cancer. I do not need, or want sympathy. I choose to use my experience with cancer to try and help others. However, I also do not need to be continually harassed, when I have asked, repeatedly, to be left alone.

During his attention seeking, following the MH tweet, which he found so egregious, he seemed to have no issue with another user suggesting he "kill us", and dutifully retweeted and favourited the comment. Only recently, he claimed to have received a threat of violence himself, so for him to condone such a tweet is baffling, though, given his pattern of behaviour, is, perhaps, unsurprising.

His allegation of a threat of violence directly implicated myself and two other users, to the point that I had to visit a solicitor with the consideration of a Cease and Desist letter unless he made it abundantly clear that neither myself or the other parties accused were in ANY way complicit in such behaviour. I have received threats of violence myself, including death threats, so I take such an accusation seriously. To this day, he has provided no evidence that such a threat took place.

And so, six months on from blocking him, this is what I, and others, have to contend with. A man who behaves with a complete disregard for the wellbeing of those he is harassing. A man who protests his innocence a little too loudly to be believed. A man who has, time and again, been caught trawling through the mentions and followers of people who have asked him to leave them alone. A self promoting, self aggrandising man who has lied, repeatedly. A man who should know better. Screenshots of his behaviour have been well documented. And yet, he STILL plays the role of victim, claiming to be "bullied". Only yesterday, he approached two random strangers (with, I might add, mental health issues) to regale them of his tales of woe. He basks in the sunlight of sympathy, and protests his innocence on a daily basis.

And that is why I am writing this today. His behaviour toward mental health sufferers, his invoking of MH issues to garner sympathy are a step too far. And I am tired. So very, very tired of seeing his name, over and over again. Tired of hearing the same lies, the same excuses, the same "coincidences". I blocked him. Why can he not simply accept that and get on with his life?

I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he will read this, and so I implore him. Go away. Leave me in peace. The protestations, the claims, the accusations.. absolutely NONE of it has any validity. And I challenge him to prove otherwise, as I, and many others, can certainly prove our position. 

I write this, not to garner sympathy. Fortunately (for me) I have incredibly broad shoulders. I can deal with any rubbish that puerile imbeciles, like him, care to through at me. Some, however, cannot, and at least two users have been left quite frightened by his behaviour toward them. For me, there comes a point when enough is enough, and the next step will be costly and emotionally draining. If he cannot move on with his life, and forget I exist, I will have to seek legal recourse. Something I can happily do without. I write this as a warning, to him, that if he persists, he will find himself on the defendants table in a courtroom.

I have elected not to name the individual, as I have no desire to further destroy his reputation. He is doing a perfectly good job of that himself. Similarly, should the matter ever become the subject of litigant action, it is prudent to ensure that I keep my comments succinct and accurate. It is also possible that I, and 40 other people are entirely wrong. I somehow doubt it, and for those of you who are already aware of the individual, I leave it to you to make that determination. Certainly, I have no desire to find MYSELF on the receiving end of a lawsuit for libel, and so, to that end, I present only the facts of which I am certain, with no identification of the person in question.

Above all, I write this as a caution to anyone who uses social media. In the case of this particular individual numerous complaints have been made to Twitter, who have seen fit to take no action, with the exception of a short suspension. They look, unfortunately, at individual tweets, and not the broader picture, nor at the patterns of behaviour, of any user. This is a major failing of social media, and applies to many users who abuse the platforms they use  for dubious purposes.

There are people out there who prey on others, sometimes directly, sometimes surreptitiously. Choose who you interact with cautiously. In a world where people can hide behind the safety of a screen, do we really know who we are chatting to? For the most part, people are good, kind and honest. Every once in a while, someone comes along who lulls you into a false sense of security. Someone who, at face value seems genuine. Someone who is not all they seem to be.

If you find yourself at the hands of people like this, never respond. Block them, ignore any requests they make to resolve issues. NEVER agree to meet them in person. Document everything. And above all, be safe.

Addendum.. Despite this post, this nonsense is still ongoing. You can read an update on the situation HERE

DISCLAIMER. Any inference made regarding the identity of the individual in question is made ENTIRELY by you, the reader. I accept no liability for correct or incorrect connections with any specific Twitter account. Every statement made in this post is a true and accurate record of the behaviour of the aforementioned individual and can be substantiated by screenshots. If you are aware of the individual, I strongly advise you NOT to contact them.  

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