Tabi Jackson Gee | Contributing Writer | Tuesday, 15 December 2015

First Dates\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Abi: What It\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Like To Be Hated By The Internet

First Dates' Abi: What It's Like To Be Hated By The Internet

The Debrief: What it's like to experience the sort of trolling normally experienced by Katie Hopkins - on a really bad day

We’ve all been on a bad date. Sorry, le’'s rephrase that – been BAD on a date. Spilt red wine down a white top, said something daft about the weather, brought up an ex a few too many times...

But thank god you never have to relive it, like the bright-eyed contestants of First Dates. For Abi Mills, not only did she have to relive it, she also experienced the kind of trolling usually reserved for Katie Hopkins. On a really, really bad day.

ICYMI Abi, a 33-year old yoga teacher and mum of two was set up with Mark, 39, himself a divorcee. Things were going pretty well until... Abi saw Mark. Who didn’t quite live up to the tall, dark yoga enthusiast she’d hoped for.

Drama ensued. Insults were thrown. At one point Abi said if there was a window she could escape out of, she would. Let’s just say that compared to the meek and mild Mark, she came across a bit, well, full on. Abi says it was all just banter. Twitter didn’t see it that way. So Twitter took to arms as only Twitter can do and things got nasty.

Nothing can prepare you for the kind of shit storm that online hatred can stir up (apart from if you actually ARE Katie Hopkins, in which case you live for that stuff).  Even the cast of TOWIE got involved.

We caught up with Abi to find out if she really was just messing around, what it’s like to be hated by the internet, and if she and Mark are still talking…

Abi, you were a bit disappointed with Mark. What kinda guy were you hoping to meet on the date?
Physically, I said tall, dark, that kind of thing. He turned up and was completely the opposite to what I’d described.

What did you think when you first laid eyes on him?
Pretty much straight away we knew we didn’t fancy each other. And the thing is, when you’re there with all the cameras in your face and you can feel the microphone on your back, you’re not going to be normal. There’s nothing normal about that setting. You’re not going to act in a normal way, you respond to what’s going on around you.

So what happened after you realised you didn’t fancy each other?
I just thought I’ve gone to all this effort, I’ve gone for three interviews, I’ve been up to London four times. I thought, ‘This isn’t going to be a boring date, I’m not just going to sit here and have a really boring few hours.’’ So that’s when I started giving him a few one liners.

How did you feel when the episode aired?
When the break came I had a look on Twitter. I haven’t even watched the whole date on TV yet, because I couldn’t. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe the abuse that was being put on there. Unbelievable. I’ve always been posting yoga stuff, I’ve only ever had nice compliments or people saying nice stuff.

What were the worst things that people were saying?
‘She’ll die lonely.’ ‘I hope she never loves again.’ ‘Pass it on.’ And then you had the whole of TOWIE joining in. People tag you in these tweets, to make damn sure you see them.

And people managed to get hold of your phone number, too?
I’ve been getting loads of messages because on my website I have my phone number. I should have taken that off. I’ve had loads of porn sent to me. One of them was a picture of a woman tied up. A naked woman tied up – and not in a good way.

What were the nice things about the show?
Me and Mark are still friends and we had literally the most amazing time. We were on the date for four hours, in hysterics most of the time. And at the end of the date in the last interview I said to him, ‘Well done for taking my banter’ and I said, ‘You know I’m only joking’ and we hugged.

As soon as we realised we didn’t fancy each other, we just had a laugh. We were sat with each other for four hours just talking and drinking. You forget the microphone.

And do you think anything good has come from the experience?
I want to do a Facebook page for people who have experienced bullying. I want to make a safe place where they can share their stories. If I can’t draw something good from it, then there’s no point in the experience. It’s opened up my eyes to the other side of social media.

Like this? You might also be interested in...

Waiters and Waitresses Talk About The Worst Dates They’ve Ever Witnessed

What It’s Really Like To Appear On First Dates

How ‘Netflix And Chill’ Took Over The Internet And Ruins Things For Everybody

Follow Tabi on Twitter @tabijgee

Tags: First Dates, First Dates TV Show