Let’s reverse the trend for social media negativity
JUST before Christmas I was tagged in a Facebook comment by someone calling me “the most hated man in Cornwall”.
If that wasn’t enough, the same person added that if I wanted to continue living in Cornwall he advised that I stopped being a reporter. That sounded like a threat to me.
I can see the social media posts now... laugh it off, people will say. “You’re a journalist, it’s part of your job to accept criticism.” Though it probably won’t be spelled correctly and there’ll be a few ripe words thrown in for good measure.
Those comments aren’t the first aggressive, bullying and negative reactions I’ve received online and they won’t be the last.
Even at the dawn of the internet I was being called a c-word for writing critical reviews of nu-metal bands. You should have seen what emo fans called me....
Things have got far worse in recent times. Even some “feelgood” stories
Why has social media turned so many of us into haters, wonders Lee Trewhela
are now greeted with instant negativity by keyboard warriors who will look to badmouth the subject of a story’s life, actions or choices.
There’s criticism and there’s pure nastiness. Cornwall Live posted a story on Facebook this week about a midwife from the county undergoing brutal challenges on an episode of TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins. A lot of the comments that followed can only be described as sexist and spiteful. Why the need?
I suspect a lot of people think they’re being funny but, you know, just take a minute to think before you post. That comment could be hurtful and insulting at best, bullying and libellous at worst.
It has a direct effect on someone’s mental health. Never forget that.
Only this week I tweeted a feature I’d written about someone’s good fortune. Did you ask them about a certain incident in their past, came a reply. Why? If true, it had nothing to do with this current story. Why look for negativity all the time?
Our Facebook page has become infamous for it. While it’s full of people being positive and sharing our stories, it’s also often awash with such vehemence you have to question what has happened to the human race.
I welcome constructive criticism – believe me, I’m even critical of our site myself sometimes – but some of the comments are so full of invective I’ve chosen not to read them anymore. It’s certainly helped me sleep at night.
I’m far from the only one affected by rising bile online. I’m sure we’ve all got a story. When even the President of the United States is tweeting scattergun – and, many would argue, highly dangerous – musings, you know we’re in a strange place.
Freedom of speech appears to have become the freedom to harangue. Look at Black Mirror actor Will Poulter, who decided to leave Twitter last week for his sanity following comments over his looks. What drives someone to make public comments about another person’s face?
And how about the mountain of anti-semitic comments thrown at comedian David Baddiel? To be fair, he tackles each and every one head on – I’m not sure I’d have the patience or skin thick enough to do that. Voted to leave Europe in the referendum? Don’t announce it on social media or you’ll be dubbed a right-wing, immigrant-hating racist. Or thick.
When the team at Cornwall Live deem a comment has gone too far we are able to hide it, but are the social media giants as quick when it comes to damaging posts? It often appears not.
The Greek chorus of social media trolls has become deafening and you could argue it’s now spilling over onto our streets.
Has sharing anger at a press of a button made it easier for people to show aggression in “real life”?
The Metropolitan Police have been requested to act over increasing abuse of MPs outside Parliament after protesters chanted at Tory MP Anna Soubry that she was a “Nazi” and other revolting abuse.
The rise of such hate-ridden behaviour in recent years appears to mirror the rise in popularity of social media. A coincidence?
Social media is intrinsic to my job. If it wasn’t, I would have started 2019 iPhone-free. That’s a sad indictment of where Facebook, Twitter et al find themselves now.
Twee I know, but shouldn’t we all be a bit kinder to each other?
Just take a minute to think before you post,says Lee Trewhela