Dan Walker recalls holding back as cruel trolls abuse grieving pal: ‘Don’t get involved!’

Dan Walker recalls eating BBC job interviewer’s lunch

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Dan Walker, 43, recently spoke out about dealing with backlash on social media, as celebrities are constantly bombarded with criticism and hate from users online. The BBC Breakfast host revealed he usually responds in a professional manner to see if he can resolve an issue with a troll, but sometimes certain situations call for harsher words, something he had to restrain himself from doing when reading through comments on Sky presenter Simon Thomas’ Instagram page after he lost his wife.

I’ve been offended and annoyed on your behalf when I’ve read some of the things that people [have said]

Dan Walker

Simon’s wife Gemma tragically passed away in November 2017, three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

On his podcast Life, Interrupted, he chatted with Dan about how these kind of comments can impact those on the receiving end in the worst of ways.

Touching on one memorable remark made about the loss of his wife when he was still grieving, Simon recalled: “I remember in the weeks after I lost my wife Gemma three years ago, one guy tweeted me and said, ‘For goodness sake get over it,’ and this is only two and a half months later.”

Dan sighed in disgust as the podcast host continued: “I challenged him and wrote back saying, ‘If you want to chat about this some more then give me your number and I’ll give you a call.’

“I never expected he would but he direct messaged me his number so I rang the guy and ended having a really nice conversation with him and he was so apologetic because once he heard my voice; it’s being human with each other.

Simon pointed out some don’t think about how their words can come across and forget how vulnerable we can all be at times.

“When you put a human side to it, the conversation often becomes something very different,” he shrugged.

Dan agreed and admitted he had to restrain himself from snapping at trolls like that one, in the comments section.

“I have been offended and annoyed on your behalf when I’ve read some of the things that people [have said].

“I remember going through your Instagram and seeing you write some really powerful [stuff] and post some incredibly insightful, brutal videos of what it’s like to lose your life partner and then some of the comment underneath…”

He winced as he added: “And I’ve written and deleted and half written and deleted comments back and thought, ‘No, no, don’t get involved, don’t get involved!'”

But on occasion, he has felt it necessary to defend his pals against these internet trolls.

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While admitting he finds it “fascinating, mildly frustrating and humorous” how judgemental viewers can be of him, this comment directed to his BBC co-presenter who he decided to leave unamed, left him feeling defensive.

He told Simon: “One guy said something horrible about my co-presenter on Breakfast.

“Something catty, cruel and insulting. Just a comment about their appearance and the sort of person they expected them to be.”

He explained he decided to challenge them about the reasons why they wrote it, and he was glad he did.

“I went back to them and said, ‘Hi, thanks for your comment. Without being horrible, can I ask you to read back what you’ve written?'”

He continued: “‘Now imagine that somebody you work with has written that about you and you’re at home on Facebook reading that yourself and ask yourself how that makes you feel.'”

“And he actually came back and said: ‘Yeah, you’re right’ and then we had a nice conversation about something else.”

BBC Breakfast airs weekdays at 6am on BBC One.

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