Social media is a big dangerous country and Twitter’s the wild wild west. The root cause of society’s ills and woes, it’ll rot your mind and poison your soul. The dust bowl of contempt. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Of course social media was to blame for Boris Johnson telling a taxi driver to “Fuck off and die.” Social media the reason Jeremy Clarkson was sacked. Why Sir Tim Hunt’s comments about women scientists offended so many. Oh wait…
It’s misconceptions like this that do most damage to people’s perceptions of social media. A wonderfully creative landscape beholds anyone traveling across it’s borders. The good achieved and on offer too often unjustifiably overshadowed by the words of those who don’t even try to understand. The irony.
While social media is changing the way we live our lives, in how we access information and how we connect with others, the criticism put forward by David Davis MP on Question Time recently is puzzling, that the “Twitter mob and the tabloid media crushes any point sort of difference of view…”. Especially so, having cited that renowned phrase from Evelyn Beatrice Hall in the biography of Voltaire, in defence of free speech, that “I may not like what you say but I’ll defend your right to say it.”
Surely social media including Twitter are actually the true defenders of democracy, giving people opportunity for a voice in ways never before possible. Will you hold someone to account in the office or in a shop for their sexist comments – whether it’s clumsy, misplaced entertainment, or intentionally harmful; will you ask someone to stop swearing infront of your child; will you thank a stranger for brightening up your day? How we behave and the laws we have to abide by across our digital landscapes are no different to those of the wider world.
Very rarely until just a few years ago were people afforded opportunity to contemplate someone’s personal opinion beyond reading it in the newspaper, listening to it on radio, watching it on tv, or through your artistic and creative endeavours. And if you’ve ever seen me Salsa you’ll understand that’s sometimes best avoided. Let’s just say that date never lasted and leave it at that.
It’s true that a Twitter storm can quickly quickly bubble up and spill over, and it would be niaive not to recognise the correlation between societal behaviour and the impact of social media. But you need to look far deeper into the process of socialisation, conditioning, popular culture, injustice and social conscience if you’re to reach a true understanding about the root cause of online abuse and trolling.
Warning, strong language:
To belittle is to be little no matter where you’re living your life. Social media simply holds up a mirror to the world and reflects it back – it may be the vehicle but alone doesn’t create injustice or abuse.
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