Social media, eh? An oxymoron if ever there was one. Social: from Old French, or from Latin, ‘socialis’ allied; from ‘socius’ friend. Media, ‘the main means of mass communication…’ Well, they got one right. With the current state of things, the hatred both have helped create, perhaps they should be renamed. How about, Trolls-r-us?
Troll: 1. To fish for by trolling. 2 a: to antagonise (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content. 3 b: to act as a troll. (Merriam-Webster.com, 2017)
Both, Twitter more than Facebook, enable anonymity that many hide behind. These, ‘the anonymous’, are able to rage against an individual, a race, a religion, sexual orientation, or whatever their hot button is, without any penalty. Anonymity allows them to threaten others with being attacked, raped, killed, have acid thrown in their face. Without penalty. Let me repeat that, without penalty. Free-speech anyone?
To avoid criticism, both organisations define themselves as platforms rather than publishers because, well, publishers have a responsibility for what is written on their pages / sites. Not Facebook, or Twitter, though, no, no, no. ‘We’re a platform so don’t have the responsibility for what people write.’ Well, dear reader, that’s bollocks.
Both enable people to demean the language of debate and social intercourse; both allow many to conflate disagreement with being an enemy, not an opponent, (I’ve already written about this); both allow people to rage and say the most outrageous things, most of it without proof, and have their cant believed by those whose views replicate their own. Then let’s add that both can be used to target specific groups with disinformation. All this without responsibility. Thank you, Twitter. Thank you, Facebook. Thank you, Cambridge Analytica.
Both epitomise the modern day ‘prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages, power without responsibility.’ And we allow these two publishers to get away with it. And we allow these two publishers to make money from what we view and from the dysfunction they have helped create. The word obscene comes to mind. As does immoral. As does unforgivable. As does harlot. And it impacts all, and I mean all, areas of our world. Even sport.
Rita Panahi, an Australian journalist and social commentator, in an article in the Herald Sun, February 7, 2013, headed ’Soccer trolls abuse proves how right I was’.
‘Online anonymity gives users a power without responsibility. They tweet what they would never dare say to your face and in forums inhabited by like-minded, asinine souls they egg each other on. The lack of accountability results in misogyny, racial abuse, threats of violence and insane rants posted without fear of repercussions.’
This is about football for God’s sake! She continues:
‘The philosopher Plato argued that without accountability for our actions, we would all behave unjustly. One wonders what he would make of a modern world in which the internet affords users almost complete anonymity.’
Yep, that about nails it. Definitely power without responsibility.
So, it’s up to us to decide whether we wish to continue contributing to the coffers of these two organisations. These two powerful, irresponsible, publishers. Your choice…
J J Mitchell
‘Never leave anyone behind’