Monday, 20 August 2012

Watch Your Mouth...Post Smart!

Good Evening Lovely People!

I felt the need to drop a little something different, inspired by events that have really bothered me in recent times.

There seems to be a very happy, casual throwaway attitude to comments, attitudes and offensive material placed online of late. 

Paul Chambers recently had what I considered to be a more than fair verdict overturned for recklessly tweeting about blowing up Sheffield airport in a 'moment of irritation'. A deluge of racist tweets have been the focus of speculation in the football world for quite some time, but in particular, since former Bolton Wanderer's Fabrice Muamba's frightening on-pitch heart attack and the on-pitch dispute between Chelsea FC's John Terry and Queen's Park Ranger's Anton Ferdinand; that resulted in a Crown Court trial as well as a still ongoing Independent Review by the Football Association. 

Olympic Bronze medallist Tom Daley received a shockingly hateful tweet about his Father, recently deceased during the recent games. Just last night, I personally saw a highly offensive video, where a young man was rude to an elderly woman and now there is a story dominating today's news about the Police being too heavy-handed in their sentencing for Twitter and online trolling.

What strikes and worries me the most about every single one of these cases, is not just the apathy surrounding the serious nature of what we're seeing online at the moment, but more the outright support of rudeness, negativity and in some cases, the blatant hostility.

Personally, I fail to see how Paul Chambers was unfairly treated, as was the claim by so many since his case came to light. Supposedly his tweet was an 'angry joke' and he is entitled to his Freedom of Speech. That's fine; but perhaps the decision to overturn his fine should have considered whether any of the families or survivors of 9/11 got the punchline?

When it comes to football, there could not be a more disinterested person on the planet Earth, than I. Being a devoted Aunty to several footballing nephews, aged from a spirited toddler to a 19-year-old semi-professional player, however; rampant racism across social media that my 8-year-old nephew can access from school is an issue I consider, quite serious.

It's only a few weeks since British Diver Tom Daley received an outrageous tweet from a 17-year-old who cannot be named due to being underage. I suppose you could chalk that one down to age, but I would love to know if his Father is proud?

Last night I caught a video that I will not post here, because I refuse to add support by directing web traffic to it. A young man had his friend film, as he spoke quite rudely to an elderly Jehovah's Witness through his intercom. As the daughter of a Witness, I'm by no means saying that what occurred was the most offensive act I have ever encountered - far from it. However rather than simply saying "I'm not interested, Thank You. Please have your Organisation remove my address from your Ministry list", his response was to try to 'outsmart' her with Scripture (he failed); before resorting to verbally bullying her with more Scripture and determined ignorance from behind what I can only describe as a 'Back 2 Africa' stance (which still did not support his ill-thought out argument and showcased his lack of knowledge on the subjects that He raised).

I'm from a very traditional background, so manners toward anyone, especially one's elders, is automatic. Although I was disturbed by the discourse that occurred; the fact that the action was taken towards a Jehovah's Witness is not the worst infraction here; I would view the behaviour in the same light, no matter the faith involved. It was the blatant disrespect by a young person of their elder, that disgusted me.

As someone heavily involved in online content on a daily basis, many of the things that I see offend me but, for the most part I have  trained my eyes to go blind to it because trolling and online abuse are fast becoming the accepted norm, for one thing. For another, if I stopped to engage every offence, I would get nothing else done! At the same time, I'm quite mindful and concerned that by keeping silent on so much of what I'm seeing, I am, albeit unwittingly, contributing to it.

For reasons I fail to understand, it is perfectly acceptable to agree with online trolling and abuse, support it and repost it; but if you speak against it, then YOU become the one in the wrong. The Police are currently under fire for acting against the above offences  (barring the video) when shamefully, the UK is in fact, one of the most lenient Countries in the world when it comes to these cases.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there is also a little something called Social Responsibility that is far too overlooked in this day and age. We are all responsible for the  messages and content that we post online. Not only do we need to think about who we're influencing with our content, but we also need to recognise, that the same way that some are free to share things of a questionable nature; those still insight of their moral compass are free to speak against them.

Richard Bacon's 'The Anti-Social Network', first aired on BBC3 earlier this year, perfectly sums up the growing problem of what's happening today. Unfortunately, the episode is no longer available from the BBC, but catch it on an independent YouTube here:

Catch you next time, folks.
ES ;o)