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The Olympic medallist revealed some of the worst homophobic abuse he has faced on social media and how he deals with it.
“At times, my platforms can feel like a community a band of uplifting and friendly voices,” he said in an excerpt from his upcoming autobiography Coming Up for Air published by the i newspaper.
“However, it is not all positive and there are massive downsides. There are always voices in the midst of support, flinging homophobic comments or worse into the web.”
Daley described the worst example of trolling he faced after his father Robert died from a brain tumour in 2011.
After he and Pete Waterfield missed out on a medal in the 2012 synchronised 10m platform final, he retweeted a message which read, “you let your dad down I hope you know that.”
Daley added: “He wrote, ‘I’m going to find you and I’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky t**t. You’re a nobody, people like you make me sick’.
“It wasn’t me at the receiving end of it this time, but it magnified the issue of cyberbullying. It is hurtful and no one should have to deal with it. I felt awful that I had been caught up in something so vile.”
The abuse can be from all angles, according to the athlete.
A Christian group once tweeted him to say the way he lived his personal life was the reason Rio “had not gone well” in 2016.
As a young diver, Daley remarked how he was still learning how to deal with such comments and has become more resilient to them over time.
“I have three million followers on Instagram, and so every time I post a picture I feel as though I’m standing on a stage and giving everyone the opportunity to shout whether they like what I am wearing or doing or not.
😆📘 The FINAL cover for #ComingUpForAir, out 14th Oct. It’s been a privilege to reflect back on life so far writing this…an amazing journey, not without its challenges but I’m grateful for the highs, the lessons learned from the lows and who I am today.https://t.co/GPnRJFMOmk pic.twitter.com/ofvKKDID4l
— Tom Daley (@TomDaley1994) August 20, 2021
“Often in these scenarios, some people shout out stuff like, ‘I hate your trousers’, ‘why the hell are you doing that?’ or ‘you will go to hell’.”
The keen knitter described social media as a barrier people can hide behind to let out “their darkest thoughts” and said most people would not dare say negative comments to his face.
Now, he walks away after sending tweets or posts on Instagram.
“I think social media has given a platform for people to say awful things to someone else, and there be absolutely no recourse,” he said.
“I have learned not to care about what some faceless random or bot on the internet thinks.”