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After Pat Spillane revealed his online abuse, how much more trolling can we take before we switch off social media?

This summer, GAA legend Pat Spillane quit The Sunday Game after 30 years on our screens partly because of abuse he was receiving on social media. We ask the experts why society puts up with trolling and whether any of us is truly able to deal with it

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RTÉ pundit Pat Spillane during the Kerry County Senior Football Championship Semi-Final match in 2021. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

RTÉ pundit Pat Spillane during the Kerry County Senior Football Championship Semi-Final match in 2021. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

"Trolls have realised that a good way to be heard is by destructive or nasty behaviours, because if you say something thoughtful, meaningful and nice it doesn’t get as much attention as if you say something nasty."

"Trolls have realised that a good way to be heard is by destructive or nasty behaviours, because if you say something thoughtful, meaningful and nice it doesn’t get as much attention as if you say something nasty."

“When you are completely controlled by your phone, that’s when it becomes an addiction.” Psychologist Dr Jolanta Burke

“When you are completely controlled by your phone, that’s when it becomes an addiction.” Psychologist Dr Jolanta Burke

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RTÉ pundit Pat Spillane during the Kerry County Senior Football Championship Semi-Final match in 2021. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

If any public figure seemed unlikely to be too bothered by social-media trolling, it was surely Kerry football legend Pat Spillane. As an outspoken pundit on RTÉ GAA programme The Sunday Game for 30 years, he never seemed to think twice about sparring with fellow panellists or expressing a controversial opinion.

Yet Spillane (66) recently admitted that one of the reasons he retired from his plum TV job in July was “the volume of vitriolic abuse” he received on social media. “Frankly, in recent months, I became obsessed by these vile comments — they had started to get to me,” he wrote in a column for the Sunday World.


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