Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Dangers of Social Media

So you think that you are in control of your company Facebook page? Your company Twitter account? You know who posts what and when and have got a pretty good handle now on why you all do it and what building your brand in the right environment will do for your business. 

Why then have I been dragged to Edinburgh this week to appear as a witness in a Facebook trial? Not because of Spencers Facebook page, or because of the actions of my colleagues at the firm I worked at in Edinburgh, not due to anything remotely associated with Jeremy Kyle, but because it was I who clicked the little "Report Abuse" button. 

Back in August 2011 when a portion of England's youth and those with a sense of entitlement decided they had a right to loot and destroy and embarrass their families around the country, when livelihoods were destroyed, historic premises were burned to the ground, and parents hid their faces in shame, someone somewhere decided that he would poke fun at it. 

I have no need to repeat his unacceptable language or his disgusting racism. Anyone would have been offended by what he had to say on his company Facebook page, which was linked with ours for business reasons. So I reported it. 

Unbeknown to probably all of us, the FBI and the CID work closely in cases of extreme abuse, violence incitement, and racism to bring to trial anyone who deems these faceless, keyboard tapping crimes acceptable. 

When I first heard that I had to travel to Edinburgh from Sheffield to appear as a witness, I felt awkward and upset that I could have created a problem for this person, that they could end up with a criminal record for their opinions, thoughts, and their message. But I have my own strong opinions on various things myself yet don't feel the need to attempt to recruit others to my cause; how arrogant! 

You may argue that there are those who are super-sensitive, or easily offended, I am neither of those things. I do not care to upset myself by people wanting to swear, curse, argue or to believe in their own religious or political slants. Freedom of Speech is often quoted by those with strong opinions as their right. That long have people fought for the freedom to speak openly about their opinions; does this mean that we all want to hear them though? Not really. Not when some people want to preach idiocy, racism, prejudice, violence, extremism. Freedom of Speech in a civilised society does not give carte-blanche for people to say whatever they want whenever they want with zero consideration.

My day in the Edinburgh Court started with me as the criminal; having to empty my pockets, stand with the families of the accused, get scanned through a metal detector, have my bag searched, hand over my phone charger, have my body frisked. I was then pointed in the direction of the Prosecution Witness Room. The room with the largest sign outside, where all the families of the accused stand outside and sneer and intimidate you. 

I stood out like a sore thumb as a witness. I had dressed very smartly with no Adidas stripes, clean shoes, a skirt, and a smart blouse. My hair was washed and my make up considered, as opposed to tattooed. You think I'm some sort of snob, but didn't you know that freedom of speech is my right?

I could describe a thousand things about my "holding bay" experience; like a lady sat next to me, there as a witness against her fiancé who asked for help as she couldn't read and isn't a Christian so didn't want to pledge an oath that she would tell the truth as she didn't think she would.

A steady stream of an accused's family kept marching through past the 60 year old lady on reception to threaten a man giving witness in an assault charge. Until there was only really me and him left. He was frail with a walking stick bearing many scars from his beating as well as having weathered face from a long paper round. I didn't really fancy our chances to tell you the truth but I smiled and nodded and attempted a look that showed my alliance but that didn't invite further conversation. 

The man that cost the tax payer for my trains, hotel, food, time, and adrenaline, changed his plea to guilty when he heard that I had shown up as a witness against him, which meant that I never actually got to look into the eyes of this faceless Internet troll to see if he is actually just like me. Someone with strong opinions and a strong sense of who I am and what I believe in. Unfortunately for him, I don't believe in his racist violent views and, as he changed his plea to guilty, maybe neither did he really. Saying what you like for a reaction may not always be your right and actually Big Brother might be watching. 

1 comment:

  1. People should know that because we have been granted our right to speak freely, doesn't mean we have the right to offend other people, belittle others, or state racist or discriminating views against them. If that someone believed what he said, he should have presented himself and owned up to his wrongdoing. In the world of social media, everyone is watching.

    Sage Aumick