There was once a time when the headlines were hard hitting news stories about world politics, government scandals and unfortunate tragedies from around the world.
Whilst of course these still make a strong daily appearance, we’ve recently seen a new genre of headline creeping in such as “Gary Barlow sent sick tweets over stillborn baby” and “Twitter troll footballer will not face charges for Tom Daly abuse” and the worst I’ve seen in a long time “Police killings: Man arrested over Dale Cregan Facebook page” when a man created a Facebook page praising the accused who murdered 2 female police officers in Manchester recently.
The phenomenon that is social media is probably the most influential medium of today which gives people a platform to express their views and opinions and potentially get a much speedier response than the old fashioned “writing a letter of complaint” method or staying on hold on the phone listening to the same Adele song on repeat (I was on hold with T Mobile the other day and they played Nicole Scherzinger “don’t hold your breath” 3 times… the irony!). I will be the first to admit that tweeting a company gets you an almost automatic response, and if you’ve been on the phone waiting for an answer, the frustration may direct you to Twitter. But it’s becoming people’s initial go-to for complaints and rants. Is this good?? In most companies it’s not even Customer Services who look after the Twitter account.
So what is it that makes people turn confidently nasty on the web? Why does hiding behind a screen or an alias give people the right to offend and abuse people? Is it just to provoke a reaction? Is it because these people are cowards? Is it to get more followers? So many celebrities get “bullied” via their Twitter accounts for being attractive, successful or just simply dating another popular celeb…really? Is this what it’s come to? We could argue that these celebs are opening themselves up to tweets of all kinds and their Twitter accounts have helped them so much with their success and global domination so they should just accept it and deal with it. But death threats for being in a relationship with a popular celebrity, I’m sure you’ll all agree is simply disgusting.
The dictionary of Internet Slang defines a “troll” as a deliberately provocative message board user.
In 2003, the UK legislation introduced the Communications Act 2003 which means people can now get arrested for such abuse. It was an extension of the Enterprise Act 2002 to include social media. The Act introduced new offences for ‘Improper use of public electronic communications network’, ‘dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services’ and ‘possession or supply of apparatus etc. for contravening’, as well as others.
We’re a brand who devotes a lot of time to our social sites and blog correspondents and I guess this leaves us open to feedback whether it be positive or negative. But occasionally it can turn personal. We love hearing everyone’s feedback on our products and collections, it’s ultra-important to us and it is always taken on board, but I can’t help but question people’s intentions when they make unnecessary remarks about peoples personal appearance!
We are the Social generation, I spend many evenings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram looking at photos, reading conversations and searching for new accounts to follow, not to mention all the other networks available (I’ll leave that to our Social Media Manager, Alex!).
It’s easy to get lost clicking through from one page to someone else’s and suddenly find yourself in the middle of a complete stranger’s photos from 1998. But should we keep a little bit of consideration for their feelings? Should we be thinking “this is my opinion, but will it hurt someone’s feelings?”, or should we be thinking “they’ve put that picture up and made themselves vulnerable to internet ‘feedback’, it’s their own fault?”
With access to thousands of peoples private lives, are we simply becoming a generation of nosey, interfering busy bodies?
I am in no way saying I am against feedback, comments (both negative and positive) should be seen as constructive and are from people expressing their right to reply.
I’m simply putting the question out there – has it gone too far?