social media has been flooded with heart felt tributes, saddness at the death of a celebrity, caroline flack, and a message of be kind. whilst i agree with the sentiment, i feel like we all have a part to play indirectly. not just with caroline, who i was sorry to read had died, because it’s horrible and i hope she is at peace and i send healing wishes to her loved ones. but with cancel culture, with trolls, with what we say and how we speak to others.
i have seen people sharing samaritans helplines and an offer to talk which always floods social media when someone well known takes their own life. as always this message dies down within a week and we all go back to our own lives often full of gossip, negative speech about people, critique of other people’s characters. we feed the trolls by telling them to leave us alone, by sharing that we’re a victim, by replying to them, by looking at rant abuse groups on facebook or forums like tattle.
we have our whatsapp group to share the latest gossip or issue or problem. i’m sure we all discussed the allegations bought against caroline last year, or at least anyone that knew about it and who she was did.
let me be clear – violence is never the answer in any circumstance no matter who is the victim or assailant. no one of any gender or sexuality should be a victim of any form of assualt, domestic violence, sexual harrasment or bullying. it happens, this blog post won’t stop that from happening but i want it to be known that regardless of gender; violence towards another person should never be tolerated.
however, nor should hounding by the media, troll forums, constant retweeting and belittlement, online bullies, keyboard warriors – all of this comes from a place or thought of violence. your words matter whether they’re typed or spoken.
i know this because i have said stupid things in my past. i have made sweeping statements, prejudice remarks and judgement when i have not had all the facts. i can only hope that with my growing maturity and respect for people different to me i can learn from my mistakes and do better. i will always try to do and be better.
this is the point though isn’t it? when we make a comment regardless of who it is about, unless we were there, we do not know. and even if we did know, we were there, we can only speak of our own experience rather than the other person’s. it doesn’t matter how empathetic you are to another, you are not in their mind. talking helps, but it’s a drop of insight to what that person was thinking, feeling or going through in the moment.
anyway, amongst all of the sadness there has been an underbelly of please don’t wait until someone is dead to tell them how loved they are. i’m guilty of forgetting to check in on those that might need it from time to time and i want to make a more concious effort to talk to my friends who have experienced hardship, hard times. not just when they first go through it but every week, month, anniversary, hard holiday and so on because the pain might not be so sharp, the wound might be closed but the scar might still be red, sore and swollen.
trolls are never going to go away whilst we create a supply and demand lifestyle of cancel culture, gossip forums, magazines and tabloids that thrive on clickbait. following particularly controversial people on social media for the sake of wanting some confrontation or to fuel a bit of hatred is cruel.
having free speech does not give us a right to be outwardly nasty about another person. being able to share an opinion should always be to gain insight and understanding of a situation not to be used to fan flames of abuse. being able to say what we want does not give us entitlement to laugh, mock, belittle and bully others.
activism and free speech can do so much good. it can get causes recognised, it can give more understanding, it can change laws but the attack must be on the action, the system, not the person. i’m predominantly left wing and against a conservative government because i don’t believe in what they stand for but i don’t hate every single person that votes tory. i don’t understand them and i don’t see the good but i don’t attack the person. i’ll attack tory policies that are damaging to the majority of society and i may have criticised previous leaders but the frustation and anger is at the policies and principles of something i don’t agree with.
basically don’t fuel it. don’t follow the people that deliberately thrive on controversy, hatred, enjoy putting their opinion across purely to create division. don’t buy tabloids, don’t click those papers click bait articles, don’t engage in the comments. if you truly want to ‘be kind’ then you can start by not engaging with press that is determined to keep you angry, divided and attacks a person’s character time and time again when they slip up, do something wrong.
the news is supposed to be impartial. it isn’t. it’s there to make money.