Vapouround magazine ISSUE 21 - Page 61

“ There have been occasions where my home address was given out on Facebook along with my telephone number. So far my home number has had to be changed twice. “ It is true. Whether you are on YouTube with 50 or 100,000 subscribers, or you are on Twitter, Instagram or any social media network, you will encounter trolls. It’s more apparent on YouTube, however, due to user accounts being completely anonymous. Anonymity online sometimes can bring out the worst in people, which is why a lot of companies avoid YouTube, or simply switch off the comments and direct people to their Facebook presence. I have been a reviewer for almost five years now and as the channel has grown, especially in the last year, the trolling has grown along with it. In nearly all cases, the old adage of “a minute to type, a second to block” holds true, the back-end of YouTube has some very fast and easy methods to ban people from making comments on live shows and comments on videos. However, along with trolling are the people who like to take things a step too far. It was no secret, in the early days of the ‘Vaping with Vic’ channel and up to May of last year, I was on disability. To be more precise, Employment and Support Allowance. First on the support group then brought down to the work-related category as my health problems slowly got better. I made it no secret on the YouTube channel either. The Department of Work and Pensions, which takes care of all benefits, regularly had a look at my bank account. Any money coming in from the YouTube channel was instantly seen by the DWP as I held the print offs of the bank balance to them at the beginning of every year. It may surprise people to know, that people in disability can earn some money, not a lot, but some. The trolling back in 2016 and going into 2018 started to take a dark turn, due to me being disabled. There is trolling, and then there is directly impacting peoples’ real lives. Over the course of two years, I was called into the DWP on seven separate occasions for an anonymous report that I was committing benefit fraud. Of course, the report was anonymous which means the person who made the claim couldn’t be tracked, but the fact that some people out there took it upon themselves to make a false claim of benefit fraud just shows what kind of people are out there. There have been several occasions where my home address was given out on Facebook along with my home telephone number. So far my home number has had to be changed twice. It doesn’t end there. Like clockwork, every year on the run up to the May Vaper Expo, there is usually one or two emails sent to me from throwaway accounts where the person sending it has warned me not to go. Otherwise I will be given two black eyes. Even up to December 2018, with Vaping With Vic now an actual company, the threats have shifted from reporting me to the DWP, to reporting me to the Her Majesty’s Revenue Commission (HMRC) for tax evasion, even though the company has been around long enough to actually file its first tax return. There have been some instances where it has felt like myself and the channel have been under attack from a select few people, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I myself have been branded a ‘bully’ by some small groups of people, due to my habit of calling people out in public. Lately other select people have branded me a ‘cyberbully.’ Yet, in these same groups where they all hang out, if you look back on the history of the Facebook group, you can see them giving out information about me. What I clamed in benefits, how much I must have got in benefits, the address of the HMRC to report me for benefit fraud. When ‘trolling’ starts to impact someone’s life, which it has for me on several occasions, that’s when it crosses the line. Even while I am typing this article, only yesterday, another reviewer in the UK used a silhouette of me on a live show, with a title that they are going to ‘speak their mind’ about a reviewer in the UK. Turns out the image and the title were clickbait designed to draw in more viewers to their failing channel. If it was me that did something like that I would have been hauled over the coals for it. Yet, it’s ok for them to get away with practically anything they want to, and for the most part they do. When it all comes down to it, it’s mainly pure and simple jealousy that has caused people to go on the attack, and when it comes down to it, the more they attack, the more the general public can see exactly what’s going on. The sad part in all of this is an old saying which rings very true if you are in the public eye which is: ‘No one sees when you are provoked, they only see when you retaliate.’ I could just pack it all in and walk away. However, the vast majority of the time, the interactions I have with the folks who watch me are positive. I have helped probably hundreds of people give up smoking in the last year alone. Over the lifetime of the channel, the numbers are anyone’s guess. And when it comes right down to the heart of the matter, that’s what keeps me going. It’s the fact that the channel has, and still is, helping a large number of people switch to vaping to live a healthier life compared to being a smoker. Follow Victor online: VM21 | 61