I got death threats for saying I don't like Adele – her fans are like a cult
WHEN it comes to dramatic revelations, I didn’t think this confession was particularly controversial.
During my time writing this column, I’ve admitted to being vain, dirty and a bad friend.
I’ve told the world about my divorce, my pregnancy piles and my faked orgasms.
But when I dared to speak up about the fact that (shock, horror) I didn’t really get why Adele was so popular, it turned out to be the online equivalent of writing a massive “hit me” sign on my back.
I woke up that Sunday to hundreds of comments on my social media.
A lot of them were positive – “Thank god someone’s finally said it!” or “I thought I was the only one!” – making me wonder if I should form some kind of not-liking-Adele support group, a non-fan club, if you will.
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But most of them were a barrage of hate and abuse, targeting not just me, but anyone who had dared to agree with me in the comments.
It turns out hell hath no fury like an Adele fan scorned.
They pulled apart my appearance (“That pink suit makes you look like raw salmon” was the most memorable), insulted my writing ability (“Go back to journalism school”) and criticised my character (“You’re a jealous bitch, plain and simple!”).
Some even threatened violence or told me to kill myself.
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I was shocked that I’d provoked so much anger by expressing what I feel was a light-hearted, if unpopular, opinion.
The irony of the fact they were hating on me for hating on Adele was not lost on me.
I tried to brush it off, didn’t “feed the trolls” and avoided social media for the rest of the day.
But a sense of unease stayed with me. I chalked it up to being an occupational hazard, until I read a recent survey that showed it’s not just magazine columnists who are subject to abusive pile-ons.
The survey from the research firm Ipsos, along with King’s College London, found that three in 10 of us have experienced online harm or abuse, with women far more likely to receive online harassment.
What’s truly scary is that the survey found that younger generations are more prone to seeing online abuse as acceptable, presumably because they’ve grown up on the internet and have never known anything else.
I’m pretty certain that none of the people who wrote nasty comments on my Instagram and Twitter actually wished me harm.
I also doubt they’d ever dream of saying those things to my face. There’s just something about the unfettered free expression of the internet that makes us feel we’re entitled to spew our darkest and most hurtful views with #nofilter.
But whether it’s a teenage girl being bullied on TikTok or a female MP being tweeted rape threats, it’s time for all of us to take online abuse more seriously.
When tech companies and governments shrug their shoulders at it, they help to normalise abuse offline, too.
The response to my column showed me how cult-like Adele’s fans can be.
Not even cancelling her Vegas residency, leaving many of them out of pocket and upset, dented her immense popularity long-term.
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So while I personally haven’t sipped the Adele Kool-Aid (it probably tastes like Whispering Angel, her favourite wine), I did learn a lot from my brush with the online cyber bullies.
It’s made me realise that we all need to think about the real person behind the online profile. Me included.
● Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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