Thursday, 5 November 2009

Would you put your money where your mouse is?

The Internet is a thing of wonder - we can make friends, learn stuff, do splendid bits of shopping, mildly spy on our exs, then express ourselves a little.
And it's powerful too.
Foolish posters lost their jobs and their loves by blabbing about stuff when they should have kept schtum.
Poor naive Gary Mckinnon didn't understand the consequences of what, to him, was no more than an intellectual exercise.
Shiny-haired PR types have cottoned on to the power of the blogosphere. The few that put their kitten heels in it by thinking they could patronise or bribe bloggers into giving their latest gizmo a plug got a mauling.
Yet now we're all muscling in on the act – flinging our .com weight around willy nilly.
But because it's so easy to leap on a virtual band wagon things are getting bent out of shape.
Before we all linked to the world through our screens, how much of a campaigner were you? Be honest - did you ever really get beyond tutting? OK, maybe you signed a petition if someone put it in front of you or you might have joined a march as a student on a sunny afternoon with your mates.
But now, look, blog pals - and remember however lovely they are you generally haven't met these people - urge you to join a clamour and ‘click, click off’ you go.
Take Philip Laing the 19 year old who peed on a war memorial while blind drunk and had the misfortune to get photographed in the act.
Now I'm not saying that what he did was right and that he shouldn't be punished, but keep it in proportion.
The baying in chatrooms means he will always be the boy who p1ssed on the heroes. Do you know there are loathsome individuals who think it's sport to relieve themselves on those huddling homeless scraps who live in our shop doorways? And if they get caught, sure, they'll serve their time, but then they'll be allowed to get on with the rest of their lives.
And what about Jan Moir - the Daily Mail columnist who suggested that Stephen Gately's death wasn't natural. There was a clicking campaign against her that was probably far in excess than the number of people who read the article in the first place. Grow up - she's paid to be provocative, it's her job. And it's not as if the Daily Mail is the champion of all things liberal. When was the last time you read something there in support of mums who go out to work?
Stop and think before lobbing a virtual rock - are you just tagging along with the cool gang or do really believe? Would you put your money where your mouse is?

3 comments:

  1. I so agree with you. I would hate to have a life outside my house right now! (Half jesting.) I mean if I had been spotted doing half the stupid things I've done in my youth I probably would never have had a job. (Nothing more sinister than Singing in the Rain at Earls' Court tube, or trying to impersonate Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the way home, but thank god there wasn't YouTube.)
    In the US at least, I think most of the sentences that are being given out these days are due to the public baying, which in turm depends on the talk show idiots who in turn are out to rally extreme political support.
    With our latest tragedy in the Texas US military base, my first instinct was to think that since the shooting was done by a military person "gone bad", there would be a lot of leniancy toward him, as opposed to perhaps, a homeless person who had just had enough. Now the Muslin connection is all over the news, it's being painted as quite a different picture (without a rush to judgement, you understand). I am sure he will be tried in the media first.

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  2. I cringe badly enough when I look at my teenage self in my mind's eye - imagine how it would be if the whole world saw!
    You're right about trial by media, although it's actually, sort of trial by internet that's the problem. In Britain we have a legal system that isn't based on what the victim wants but on a fairly set tariff that works around what was intended and what was actually done. We also have reasonably strict laws that cover what the mainstream media can and can't say about what someone has done, and these are stricter even in Scotland. What we haven't got is those controls over the Net. Anyone can publish anything they like without the restrictions that bind 'traditional' publishing. Interesting times ahead I think.

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