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Pointless Trolling

Sara and Blair standing behind the Podium for BBC Show Pointless

Fun fact, I went onto the BBC Show Pointless with my partner Blair Christie.

The episode aired in 2021 and 2022. Spoiler alert, we were kicked out in the first round on our first day but did make it to the final on our second appearance. Quite proud of us! And, of course, I can’t forget to mention that we took home two trophies that now have pride of place as bookends!

Lights, Camera, Action!

When the episode first aired, I remember cringing a lot. It’s strange seeing yourself on screen and the constant WhatsApp pinging with people taking photos of the TV. Especially surprising on the repeats as we didn’t know when these would air!

As much as I expected to have the cringe-feeling watching it back on TV, what I didn’t expect were the Twitter trolls. Call me naive, but we’re talking about Pointless, a game show on the BBC.

You may be wondering - surely trolls spew hate on all contestants. Yes, there might be a mean comment, like the one who called my partner a lumberjack because of his chequered shirt. However, the comments about me on the show were particularly aggressive about how I looked, spoke, and my career choice.

In response to saying I am a Diversity and Inclusion consultant, here is just a snippet of some of the reactions on Twitter:

Meddling Diversity c*nt alert on #Pointless tweet screenshot

Tweet thread screenshot. First user says 'Diversity consultant stuffs up', second user replies with 'surrounded by straight, White men and can't sack any of them'. The final tweet reads, 'There is a God!'

Everyday Racism

A tweet screenshot, user post says ' I can't help it, but people who begin every answer with 'so' upset my equilibrium. Not quite as much as the Priti Patel-like losing the letter g at the end of words, but it knocks me off kilter.

The tweet here saying I look like Priti Patel cut me the most for a few reasons. Firstly, I look nothing like Priti Patel. This type of comment is a racist microaggression - a statement or action that is a subtle form of discrimination against a marginalised group.

In the workplace, people mistake individuals for others because they belong to the same race or ethnicity. It’s an indirect way to suggest we see people all the same rather than recognise their distinct features. So often, people of colour or Black people face this particular microaggression. You have to reflect on the countless mix-ups in the media, like earlier this year when the Mirror used the wrong photo of former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Besides, Priti Patel is not a pleasant person, and her values go against everything I stand for as a DEI consultant.

These online comments may seem irrelevant. But they are a window into the amount of bias, bullying, harassment and daily racism people face in and outside the workplace. Those who posted those tweets may feel that their actions are insignificant and that people are far too sensitive. However, these messages feed into a particular type of mindset. Whether small or significant, every action works towards maintaining and justifying a dangerous and toxic society for specific people, groups and communities.

Unsettling but not surprising

It’s sad and deeply unsettling that this is the level of trolling we’ve reached - tweeting hate towards a game show contestant. But unfortunately, not surprising. While I can laugh about it now, it still hurts, especially as a DEI consultant. You want to see change, and you do, but receiving hate online reminds you of what society is genuinely like.

I’m incredibly fortunate and privileged to have a strong support system around me. My friends and family remind me not to take everything I see and read online personally and to heart. So while the experience has impacted my confidence in being present online, I can work through that. But what about those who don’t have that support system in place? How many people have learnt not to go forward for opportunities or share their opinions because of these experiences?

What I will say is - negativity and trolling aside, it was a great experience, and I’d do it all again! I’ll let you know the next time the episode airs…

Have you experienced similar microaggressions online or in the workplace? Let me know in the comments, or send me a message.

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