You can’t possibly have failed to notice that the subject of abuse on social media is once again back in the news.
Leading the charge has been the wonderful Mayor of London who for reasons best known to himself (although I can guess) has established a dedicated ‘task force’ to tackle the issue of hate crime head on.
This is wrong, very wrong.
Now as anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan. To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.
However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being a child abuser, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, me.
And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.
The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to rape you but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously. And power is all they’re after.
This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual.
Would you walk down a dark alley in a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.
So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?
Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.
And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?
Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.
But social media is simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.
Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the police should and must get involved. But in the main, it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit the block button which Twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.
If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.
Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.
I for one won’t miss you one bit.
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