“People who behave this way need to step away from the internet and address their anger,” says the Derry Girls star.
It started, as so many things do on social media, with a joke. Nicola Coughlan – perhaps best known for her standout role as “the wee lesbian” in Channel 4’s Derry Girls – decided to lighten the mood in the midst of all those coronavirus updates.
“I know this time of self isolation is hard and scary for people but however bad you are feeling, please, please don’t consider starting your own podcast,” she tweeted.
“Straight men under the age of 35 are particularly vulnerable to this and we all need to be vigilant of the dangers.”
It was a joke which many people, this writer included, found funny. So much so that it has, at the time of this article’s publication, been shared some 15.6K times.
Naturally, though, there were those who chose to take offence. Rather than disagree in a respectful manner, however, they decided to hurl abuse at Coughlan on Twitter instead.
And the actor has had enough.
“Yesterday I made a harmless joke about podcasts and this is how angry some men got,” Coughlan wrote in a Twitter post, alongside a screenshot of some of the abusive messages she had received.
“It’s really crap being a woman on the internet sometimes and this just bummed me out, bleugh.”
One of the messages in the screenshot claims that Coughlan has probably “assaulted more women” than any straight white man has. Another labelled her a “fat blonde c**t.” And, elsewhere, a similarly incensed twitter user has demanded Coughlan stop telling him what to do.
Responding to her critics directly, Coughlan tweeted: “People online who behave this way need to step away from the internet and address their anger.
“Also know what a harmless joke is. Learn to laugh at yourself!”
Coughlan has found support in many of her fans online, as well as in critically-acclaimed TV producer, writer and author Shonda Rhimes.
Rhimes added: “Nicola, you’re part of the #shondalandfam now. You have people. We’re ride or die.”
It’s worth noting that, in a previous interview with Stylist, Coughlan stressed the importance of striving for good digital citizenship and being kinder online
“I lost my dad three years ago, and the one thing everybody said to me at the funeral was how kind he was,” she told us. “And I thought, what a nice legacy. So that need to be kind has always been in the very forefront of my mind, if I’m honest.
“I think that we forget that others on social media are real people sometimes, and a lot needs to be done to crack down on anonymous trolling accounts.”
The actor added: “Twitter is such a lovely resource and I’m very grateful for the people that watch the things that I’ve been in and support me, so I like being able to speak to them and thank them and write to them online. But I think it would be a real pity if trolling got to such a bad level that I couldn’t do that anymore.
“We all need to be a bit more responsible with what we’re putting out there.”
We couldn’t agree more.