A Sickening Story

It is a sad fact that in our socially connected and enlightened world that is 2021 there are a few among us that have yet to evolve above the mentality of a Neanderthal when communicating their thoughts online. I am referring to the recent disclosure that the selfless efforts of Sir Captain Tom Moore to raise money for NHS Charities came under fire from trolls sending hate messages to him and his family.

Captain Tom, a British Army officer, served in Burma and India during the Second World War. In the following years of peace the Army veteran set up his own business and his only public claim to fame was to appear on television as a contestant on “Blankety Blank” in 1983. In April 2020, and with the encouragement from his family during the pandemic, Captain Tom was set a challenge to walk 100 lengths of his garden in aid of “NHS Charities Together” with a goal of raising £1,000 by his 100th birthday. But little did he or his family know at the time just what surprises the next few weeks would bring. He attracted the attention of the British media and soon became a regular feature on national news networks which made him a household name in the days to come – both national and international. At the closing day of his walk for charity, Captain Tom had raised over £32 million; a sum that dwarfed the intended target.

He was knighted by the Queen and enjoyed a number one single with Michael Ball. The proceeds from the song were added to his fund-raising tally. On his 100th birthday he got sent so many cards from well-wishers, so many in fact that a school hall in Bedfordshire was used so they could all be displayed at once. (see featured image).

During those fund-raising weeks the family also attracted the attention of social media trolls whose sole intent was to spill all their hate and bile on Captain Tom and his family. His daughter said in an interview that she made the decision to hide these vile comments from her father because it would have mentally broke him. And she added “how do you rationalise to a 100 year old man that something so incredibly good could attract such horror?”

Captain Tom died: 2 February 2021. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and treated, but the very thing he had raised all that money to help fight claimed his life in a cruel irony. After testing positive for Covid he died never knowing that he and his family had been sent hate messages; his daughter had wisely spared him this needless heartbreak.

On the day the Moore family spoke to the BBC about the people trolling them, my heart went out to them, but in this increasingly sickening world it did not surprise me. In this age of online anonymity, and all the time people can hide behind an avatar or username, words are easy and cheap to type, so people can say anything they want with the knowledge that they will not be properly identified and rightly shamed. These thoughtless, cowardly acts would never happen in a face to face environment, and it says much about the people who perpetrate such trolling on other people who have nothing but innocent, good intentions in their heart.

This is the world we live in, and we are the people in it, and I find it alarming that a 100 year old man who couldn’t walk without the aid of a frame, and who decided to help raise money for the good of others, could inspire so much hate from people whose actions can only be described as moronic.

In some ways we are not that far removed, or indeed evolved much beyond the Neanderthal after all.

5 thoughts on “A Sickening Story”

  1. I remember this story. He was just the cutest person making his rounds around his property. I had no idea Neanderthals were being Neanderthals. Another sad thing about this….is that this online behavior is not shocking. We have encountered doses of it here at times. I have seen it at times on Twitter and sometimes I will just respond with a simple “Idiot” IF I even respond. I normally do not allow myself to get pulled into a back and forth. Because we know you can not make sense of them. Maybe a punk kid….maybe a sad pathetic adult. I try not to think too much about those animals because I can easily get frustrated. But I wonder if their accounts can be blocked if enough people complain?
    There must be ways to handle them these days.
    We know this man was a wonderful person with a kind heart…..those punks can’t change that.

  2. The Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are coming under increasing pressure to clean up their acts when it come to abuse. Just recently some black sports stars over here have been trolled by these strange people – some included death threats! There is a growing trend within the population that is getting louder as the days go by, they are calling on these media sites to do more than they are doing right now – we all know they can do more but are they willing to put the time in it will take to monitor their sites properly?

  3. I know you have heard about some of the stuff going on in the United States. Looking at what has happened here, and hearing this episode of “nastiness online”,I am not at all sure that some of these people wouldn’t do the same thing in a face to face setting, which makes me even more delighted that I don’t know them and likely will never see them. I certainly hope not, because it is bad enough on the internet, I don’t want people like that in my personal life.

    There are efforts to curtail some of that type thing here in the United States to, with the predictable screams that doing so is a violation of “freedom of speech”. Yes, that is a value in our nation, but saying nasty things just to stir up heartache and fear should not be acceptable under any circumstance in my opinion.

    1. There has always been a need in some people to be nasty to others online. They must gain some satisfaction by doing it but I have never understood it.

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