The Internet is a wonderful thing. Quite rightly it’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee was celebrated at the London Olympic opening ceremony for his gift to the world. And what a gift! Can you imagine life without the internet now? Online shopping, online news, information, data, entertainment and the ability for people to interact with each other via an online device – social media.
I absolutely love social media. I love the fact that I have got back in touch with long lost school friends, university chums, family in far flung corners of the globe as well as the joy of making new friends. I have met a fine group of people through my participation in Carry On Film chat forums, people who I have subsequently met in real life and shared many fine times together. I have embraced Facebook, sharing pictures with family, friends and colleagues as well as arranging events and the like. I have been able to keep on top of the ever changing privacy settings and hopefully don’t over abuse the amount of information I share with the World, or at least the couple of hundred folk I interact with. I also have the opportunity to write down my own thoughts in a blog and share them with those who care to have a read here on the pages of Yak Yak Yak! And then there is the micro blogging site, Twitter.
Ah, Twitter. I do love Twitter. The joy of Twitter is the speed at which news can be shared, a barometer of public opinion, a sounding board to let off steam, a fantastic source of humour, an opportunity to interact with folk and a medium in which those in the public eye can be of an equal footing to those who care to follow them. Twitter has had an important place in World events and the so called Arab Spring of 2011 would certainly not have had the momentum it did without such instant shared news and views.
However, recent events have combined to reveal an anti social side to Twitter and indeed the platform has been the news maker rather than the news breaker.
I am sure there are other examples, but the ones that stand out for me include in no particular order…
A former Big Brother contestant decides that he wants another fifteen minutes of fame. A little background here – mega famous Take That singer and all round good egg Gary Barlow recently suffered a personal tragedy when his fourth child was still born. What an opportunity for our nonentity to achieve some notoriety. He hits on the strategy of sending abusive tweets to someone who is considerably more famous than himself. That will get him noticed! So amidst the genuine outpouring of grief and sympathy from fans and members of the public alike our fame seeker crassly sends abusive messages and wallows in the limelight he has so carefully cultivated by being abusive. In fact he is seeking employ as a media consultant on the back of this.
Can this guy not see how wrong he is? I genuinely believe he can’t. I doubt for one minute that any employer would wish to hire the services of such a person who has crossed the line in such a bad manner. The guy then comments that he is being cyber bullied!
On the subject of Gary Barlow, it is well worth reading the wonderful blog constructed by comedian Jason Manford. He goes on to explore the notion of online commentary in some detail and beautifully shreds to pieces those who think it is fair game to comment before engaging brain.
Olympic diver Tom Daley received some abuse regarding his late father whilst competing. As mentioned earlier Twitter is a level playing field, but does this give anyone the right to sink to such levels?
My home town of Haverhill was recently blessed as the home of the Euromillions lottery winner who is now £148 million pounds better off. I am genuinely pleased for the guy and his family. However, a quick search on Twitter on the winners name gives an alarming number of returns of people who go onto the site to do nothing than throw abuse. Singe line comments such as “B*****ds” is one of the more polite offerings. Why do people think this is socially acceptable? Would you do that in the street, to his face? However, one of the better comments spotted did make me smile. The winner is of a bulky stature shall we say, and one observer suggested that there is now a demand for pie shops to be opened in Haverhill. This is clearly a gag without offense being made and brings to mind the recent Twitter Joke Trial which I’m delighted to report that the correct verdict was given.
The next incident that springs to mind was the reported death of Margaret Thatcher. Now, this occurs with some frequency on Twitter. The account that reported it this time was deliberately set up to look like the Sky News site in order to give it some credence. Of course, the news spread rapidly. On closer inspection it was very obvious that it was a hoax attempting to gain publicity and the “news” story was taken down. In it’s place was the advert for whatever programme they were attempting to glorify with the message “Of course Thatcher’s not dead you thick c**** but thanks for all the free publicity you f******!” Fame for fames sake and using the same brainwave as the Big Brother low life.
Finally, Twitter made the news and shaped events in the Kevin Pietersen affair currently ongoing within the England dressing room. Twitter is not the main issue, KP’s ego is of course, but the fact that a well constructed and extremely funny parody account (that England players including KP have interacted with) has managed to have an adverse effect on a national sporting side is a worry. The spoofer has owned up, apologised for his actions and closed the account. It was probably the straw that broke the camels back for the unity of the England team nevertheless. The majority of people I follow on Twitter are linked to cricket in one way or another. It is clear from their tweets that the volume of abuse they receive is dreadful and self proclaimed Twitter champion Jonathan Agnew, the BBC’s cricket correspondent, was close to quitting the media following a specific incident. This turned out to be a journalist undertaking a baffling social experiment by attempting to be as controversial as possible. I’m glad Aggers didn’t quit, the medium is so much richer with his contributions.
It is all very well blocking / banning and answering back but it has the effect of increasing the publicity of the toe rags. I am a firm supporter of the notion that we have freedom to speak, to exchange our views without fear of persecution. This is a fundamental pillar of our society and a basic human right. However, there must be some method of starving the online abusers of the oxygen of publicity that they so crave and the appropriate legislation to distinguish online bullying from a bit of banter. I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps it is a question that needs to be addressed to Twitter at large. After all, they know best. Lol