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MARTEL MAXWELL: Twitter users ask me to do weird stuff when I wear tights and boots – and I get off lightly

image shows Martel Maxwell, in front of a mobile phone showing the Twitter logo.
You think your Twitter is weird? Try being Martel.

“Whatever you do,” my friend said: “Don’t look on Twitter afterwards.”

It was six years ago and my first episode on Homes Under The Hammer was about to air.

The friend was also a presenter and had come off the site a few months before, on account of the vitriol she’d received after filming a particular show.

“No matter how you do, someone will be nasty,” she told me.

“There are a lot of angry people out there. Twitter gives them a platform. It’s not personal – but it’s also not fair.”

I took her point and didn’t look.

image shows the writer Martel Maxwell next to a quote: "Every time I wear tights or boots I get weird private messages asking me to do very odd things."

Then, one day, at a loose end, I couldn’t help myself.

With one eye closed I searched for my name (an act which always makes me feel ludicrously egocentric).

The thing is, you always remember the bad comments, rarely the good or average. But I was chuffed at the reasonable lack of outrage.

The nastiest was: ‘OMG who is this? Listen to her! She sounds…Scottish!”

Another asked: “Does anyone else expect this new lass to show us round Balamory?”

photo shows Martel Maxwell standing outside a red brick house while filming for the TV show Homes Under the Hammer.
Martel on location while filming for Homes under the Hammer.

I didn’t mind either.

It’s harder to take offence at a put-down if it’s clever rather than overly personal.

And I love a funny meme.

So of course I can laugh at myself if someone thinks my padded coat looks like tanking in the cupboard.

And I’m lucky to work on a show that’s been going for 20 years and garners such familiarity and fondness.

Mostly people like to point out my likeness to a human windmill with comments such as “tell Martel to stop waving her arms around”, or “Someone tie her hands together”.

Twitter can be a weird place too

It’s not all wholesome of course.

Weirdly, there are some false accounts out there using my name and image, which baffles me.

I’m really not interesting enough to warrant it.

And every time I wear tights or boots I get weird private Twitter messages asking me to do very odd things.

But I find it easy enough to delete and forget about those.

The journalist in me realises it’s all nonsense.

photo shows Martel Maxwell holding a notebook and pen as she speaks to a kilted Sir Sean Connery.
Martel’s career in journalism has seen her interview some famous names, including the late Sean Connery.

I get a lot of comments about Dundee too.

Things like “good to see Dundee represented on the telly” and “anyone know which Dundee team she supports?”

But tweets about Dundee always remind me of the time I had some explaining to do when I appeared on Lorraine on ITV1.

I was there to comment on the day’s papers, along with fellow journalist Mehdi Hasan, and of course, Lorraine Kelly as host.

photo shows TV presenter Lorraine Kelly dressed in tangerine and black clothing and carrying a tangerine and black Dundee United scarf outside Hampden Park football stadium.
Anyone know which Dundee team Lorraine Kelly supports?

During an ad break, Mehdi looked up at me from his phone in a state of shock.

“I can’t believe it,” he said.

“Someone’s called me an Arab in a very derogatory way. Not only is it racist, it’s totally ignorant.”

I looked at the tweet which said something like “watching the newspaper reviewers with Lorraine – get that Arab off our screens!”

I explained hurriedly, in between nervous bouts of laughter, that Arabs was the nickname for Dundee United fans, like Lorraine – and that actually supporters are proud to call themselves by that name.

photo shows three men in desert robes and flowing headgear on an open-topped bus with someone in a camel costume.
You think Twitter is weird? Try explaining to a stranger why Dundee United fans are called Arabs.

He nodded along with me. But he still looked just as confused.

How will Elon Musk change Twitter?

I bring it all up now because Twitter and all its weird and wonderful ways is in the news.

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, has paid $44billion for the company.

And it’s got lots of people questioning the worth of social media.

For another presenter friend, it’s worth the five hours a day that she spends posting and building a huge following.

She’s paid by brands to advertise for them and it’s now paying her more than traditional TV roles, which she’s starting to turn down.

For my other friend, it wasn’t worth the toll on her mental health.

Elon Musk has promised more freedom of expression on the site.

I hope that doesn’t mean he’s going to open it up to extremist views.

Hate speech can hurt individuals. It can lead to self-harm and even suicide.

And hate that isn’t shut down can also gather strength and support, until a tidal wave of anger swells and the repercussions ripple through the world.

Surely no price tag is worth having that on your conscience.