For a percentage of the population the term troll simply refers to a character in a fairy tale.

But for those who use social media, the term has a much more sinister connotation, referring to a person who deliberately harasses someone else on the internet.

Spiteful, mean-spirited and insulting remarks that would probably never be made in the course of direct conversation are made with regularity on social media sites like twitter and facebook.

The relative anonymity afforded by making posts or comments on these sites appears to encourage the worst kind of behaviour on occasion. And frequently, negative comments simply attract more of the same, as unpleasant posters follow the herd.

But they are actually rarely anonymous. Those posting comments frequently do so under their own name, sometimes with their own photograph, but are cushioned by not actually having to look face to face with the person they are making negative comments about.

It’s not a recent phenomenon but it is a modern one. Authors are even writing books on the matter, cataloguing the horrors of being at the centre of a twitter storm.

Fermanagh is a place that is considered to be a friendly place to visit, our hospitality is well known and we love the chat and banter. But that seems to count for little on the world of social media. It appears nothing is out of bounds, the unsayable turns to the sayable, and people’s feelings are just collateral damage while a point is bluntly and forcibly made.

Reasoned debate is pushed to the corners of the conversation. Straight-forward insults are common parlance. Conventional norms in terms of courtesy and consideration appear as outdated as cycling to work on a penny-farthing.

A recent feature we ran on bullying in school and the workplace touched on the concerns about social media and how it can be used as a negative force.

This week, we also see how it can impact on adult lives. Westminster candidate John Coyle has spoken on how negative comments on twitter after he appeared on the BBC’s The View brought back memories of being bullied as a child. Horrific as that experience was, he could get away to his home which he described as his refuge. Not so today, where twitter never sleeps. He felt he was unable to escape the remarks made about his performance on the programme that were made in the aftermath on twitter.

There were those who came out and called for the negativity against Mr. Coyle to stop. That was good to see.

But wouldn’t it have been even better if those calls never had to be made? We may be typing on a tablet or a mobile phone screen but remarks made from the detachment afforded by this still have a terrible and devastating effect.