A FRIEND of mine was walking through Bolton the other day, when a stranger approached her.

This person who she had never met, stopped her and said: “Hi. You don’t know me, but I know you work for XXXXXXX and I just wanted to tell you that since you started working there, I make sure I only go in to the premises when you aren’t in the office. I can’t stand you. You’re useless. Oh, also, you’re fat. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.”

The person then walked away and left my friend standing there feeling a mixture of shock, disbelief and bemusement.

Actually, the above incident didn’t happen at all.

But I wanted to outline a scenario in the real world that happens all the time on social media.

I was prompted by one nasty online troll’s public Twitter message to our own Jenny Ryan, Bolton star of the TV quiz The Chase.

The message, sent by someone named ‘angrysheeple’ on Jenny’s Twitter feed (@jenlion), read thus: “Since you came on @ITVChase I have to skip the shows with you in them. Screw political correctness, due you’re plane (sic) boring and quite often don’t know jack. You should also lose a few pounds!”

I know – it is gasp-inducingly rude isn’t it?

Jenny, as you might expect, rose above such boorishness and simply replied: “Thanks for the feedback!” with some kiss emojis for good measure. Her followers quickly stepped up to offer reassurance and their own opinions about the troll.

As I said last week, following the hate-filled rants by protesters at Parliament, there is nothing wrong with challenging an opinion, as long as it’s done in an adult manner.

But the kind of vitriol spread (to angrysheeple’s 14 followers) is pathetic.

These trolls would never dream of engaging with someone in such a manner if they were sitting with them face to face.

Jenny’s example is one of many on social media, where some feel it acceptable to replace honest, constructive, criticism with personal abuse.

If you read a book you didn’t enjoy, watched a film or TV programme that disappointed you, it is of course your prerogative to say express your view.

But shouldn’t that also be accompanied by a little bit of reasoning? Is that too much to ask?

Harry Potter author J K Rowling is honest and outspoken on Twitter. She receives horrendous abuse as a result.

But she is a wizard (see what I did there?) when it comes to the withering comeback.

Her reply to the following Tweet is just about the last word in stamping on a troll, who wrote: “…why is your writing so s***? How are you so politically delusional?”

To which Ms Rowling replied: “Question 1: I do the best I can with the talent I’ve got, but I know my writing isn’t to everyone’s taste. Question 2: My politics probably spring from my life experience and my temperament, like everyone else’s. Question 3 (unwritten but implied): Try being less of an asshole.”