Twitter has to be one of the most amazing social networks that I have come across. It allows you to connect with millions of people all over the world, from celebrities, to sports stars, to even as far down as the Z-list of those who fill up our media channels! What’s even more fascinating is that as well as connecting people together, Twitter can instantly alienate you and cast you a drift from the rest of society in the small amount of time it takes to write 140 characters.
Sounds extreme I know, but of course those who get alienated on Twitter are those who choose to be.
Twitter allows us to express ourselves in all sorts of ways exercising our constitutional right of free speech.
That’s all well and good as far as I’m concerned but what about those who choose to abuse that power.
Ever since I personally joined Twitter, I have read a lot of shall I say interesting stuff. You see what you choose to see on Twitter but there will inevitably be occasions where you will see something that is out of your control. By this I mean pure abuse, whether it be racial, anti-Semitic, gender or sexually related.
What annoys me here is that there seems to be a set of social rules that seem ridiculous to me. Whatever we can’t say in public is now apparently ok to broadcast to millions over the Internet. It appears as though the written word is now less offensive than the spoken word.
Unless you haven’t been watching the news over the last few years there are many examples of this abuse most recently targeted at Tom Daley. After Tom competed in the synchronised diving at London 2012, an extremely clever so-and-so decided to tweet him telling him he had let his father down who tragically died of a brain tumour last year. A day later that now infamous tweeter was arrested and is currently being investigated for other statements that he had posted on Twitter. I decided to have a look at these tweets for myself. Admittedly I have a fairly dark sense of humour, but even some of the stuff I read on his page was shocking and disgusting and strangely I wasn’t surprised by it.
This is definitely not an isolated case as we are exposed to this sort of stuff now all the time. I find it baffling to believe that you wouldn’t say something so horrible to someone in the street but you’re still willing to broadcast it where millions can see what you’ve said and immediately judge you for it and rightly so in these sorts of cases.
It spreads right across the spectrum of different types of abuse. I’ve seen black people get racially abused, people abused for their religion, celebrities abused for what they do, models abused cause they didn’t pay a follower any attention, people getting abused for their choice of work. I would be shocked if I didn’t get some sort of abuse from the wrong person reading this blog! Some will take any excuse to start abuse.
Another example is Jodie Marsh. I’d be pretty worried if you didn’t know who she is but for those who don’t she was a glamour model and socialite and is now a body builder competing in competitions the world over. Some people apparently don’t like this change of career so what do they do about it? They moan about it and abuse her for it.
Whatever my opinion is of these people doesn’t matter although I respect both for different reasons.
This is all a part of abuse of free speech and Twitter has even become that powerful in making people question it and really start to watch what people say and more importantly, how they say it.
Even footballers and celebrities have to check extensively what they tweet in case it can offend someone in any way! Even when I’m carelessly tweeting I still think to myself is there any way that this tweet could offend someone. Is that really free speech?
Don’t get me wrong by that statement I’m not implying that these trolls have the right to say what they say but there is a thin line here in what is appropriate and inappropriate. There’s no grey area, but we shouldn’t have to tell people what’s appropriate and inappropriate they should know what’s right and wrong.
What I’m most interested in is why do these trolls behave in the way that they do, are they that angry at there chosen target or is there own life that bad and boring to vent frustrations in such a way. Sadly and shockingly it all seems like a cry for attention in my opinion. Let’s face it for those that do tweet, we all do it for some sort of attention. We put out our thoughts out into the world in hope that someone will read it, enjoy it, empathise with it, agree with it, maybe even convince someone to choose to follow us. Like it or not Twitter is a tool we all use for some kind of attention be it positive or negative
I even think that this need for attention is that bad that people say such horrible things on purpose to grab that smallest amount of fame. I know some are desperate for fame but should you really need to be an asshole to get famous? Surely being recognised for the good things you do is better than having fame for being a twat, or maybe I’m just not normal.
It’s also important to draw the line between banter and abuse but that like beauty is in the eye of the beholder!
So how exactly can this be dealt with?
Truth is you can’t. It’s naive to believe you can stop someone carelessly typing something on a keyboard or blurting out something disgusting, the key is to expose them when they do and let the correct people deal with them.
The people that I know best on Twitter for doing this is Stan Collymore and Ian Wright, both ex-professional footballers. Whenever they are tweeted abuse they simply retweet it so all of there thousands of followers can see and then that person is exposed, once it’s out there on someones timeline there’s not much way of taking it back.
As great as it is to expose these people, some take it too far and are just as bad as the troll themselves. It sounds stupid but it’s true, people get so caught up in ostracising the troll that they take part in the same kind of abuse themselves, but just to the troll which in a way condones his behaviour.
There’s no correct way of dealing with these issues but ofcourse it’s always best to leave it in the hands of those who CAN like for example the police.
Twitter is a wonderful place and has moved the way we connect with others in so many ways and there are so many positive things that I can say about it. However, some choose to behave in a way in which it can be extremely destructive and no matter what we do to try to hide it or eradicate it it won’t go. It’s not a case of law it’s a case of people. It’s a case of trusting people to use their common sense and think about what they say. No matter how many good people are out there for every good person there’s a bad person and while you can’t stop that it would be a much more harmonious and peaceful place if they just shut there mouths and kept their foul opinions to themselves.
Thanks for reading x