Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Social media turns everybody into wankers.

Social media turns everybody into wankers.

It's as simple as that. As soon as anybody gets involved in social media, they immediately turn into hopeless, irretrievable dickheads. They lose about 50 IQ points, and begin delivering the most ill considered and moronic opinions.

I can give you some examples from my current favourite social network, Twitter:

Duncan Bannatyne famously called another user a (sic) "pheadophile" for daring to suggest that smoking in one's car with one's children in it isn't the worst crime known to man. This is an intelligent, successful man. Something's gone wrong in his brain there. Surely?

And what about Tory councillor Gareth Compton who posted:

"Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really."

Honestly. What a wanker.

Or Paul Chambers

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"

Blowing up the airport isn't going to help your flight to leave on time, is it, you dozy twat?


And then there's me. Earlier today, one of my Twitter followers asked me for advice on how to stop his son picking at his skin all the time.

I suggested that his son take up smoking.

I am a dickhead. It's right there in black and white on Twitter if you need the evidence.

But. Has any of the above really done anybody any harm? There might be one or two bruised egos, or offended Twitter friends (sorry Adrian!) - but nobody actually died, right? Nobody got hurt? Sticks and stones, and all that.

We're currently looking at a whole bunch of prosecutions brought against other social media users who posted some really dumb shit on Facebook in response to the riots. In EVERY SINGLE CASE so far, nobody actually got hurt as a result of their stupid posts, and no crimes were committed as a result of those posts. In the majority of cases so far, it's pretty clear that the poster was making a bad joke.

So we're perhaps just looking at another collection of social media wankers who happened to stray into the firing line of a political hot potato.

But the point is: their conversation isn't any different to the content posted by 90% of the social media users out there. As a social media user, we see content like this, and we say to ourselves, "Oh, just another wanker like me".

And now the judicial system is weighing in on social media, and as soon as they've got involved, they've become wankers too. They've lost 50 IQ points, and started talking just as much bollocks as the rest of us.

So the obvious defence to anybody faced with a charge under the Serious Crimes Act or the Communications Act in the coming weeks is:

"Social media turned me into a wanker. And now it's turning you into a wanker as well. Your honour."


  1. I have to confess that you are correct. I too talk the most embarrassing twaddle on social media. Never before has an "off the cuff" remark been made so public.

    However just because I may make rash or unguarded remarks doesn't make me any less culpable if I say something dangerous. People who make stupid and dangerous tweets have to be held to account. What I think is wrong is letting the legal system impose sentences which just pander to the public's desire to play the blame game as a way of assuaging our own guilt.

    Sorry if my language is mild and inoffensive......

  2. That's not really the point I was driving at, to be honest Dick.

    The issue isn't whether people should be held to account for posting stupid and dangerous tweets. The question we should ask is "whilst stupid, were these posts actually dangerous?" - That's the question that the courts have to ask (in fact, the Serious Crime Act REQUIRES them to ask this question), and in the rush to find people guilty for being stupid, they are failing to answer the second question adequately, in my opinion.

    On the second point, whilst we can debate about whether posting x or y is, or isn't dangerous, the fact remains that these were words written on a web page, often by young people who were maybe foolish or misguided. In two cases, we've seen custodial sentence of FOUR YEARS handed to young men who did nothing more than write some words on a web page. I'm sure we can both agree that this seems disproportionate; particularly in a society which supposedly prides itself on its protection of free speech.

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

    .. even you will insist on using mild and inoffensive language. ;)

  3. Speech is often dangerous. Indeed, it is a powerful tool for shaking up a rigid establishment. Comedians use satire to blow holes in politicians and policies, crony capitalism, entire governments. The pen, as we say, is mightier than the sword. Speech is ideas written down or spoken out loud. But no idea is more dangerous than the idea that some ideas are too dangerous for the public to know about. Certain examples of speech can cause real harm to real people, and there are laws that deal with that. However, when we have speech acts that have not harmed anyone and were not designed to do so, then there should be nothing to punish. People were joking around, as people tend to do when strange and frightening things are happening around them. Some have merely expressed vague sentiments in support of rioters. That is protected political speech.

    The two Facebook defendants from Cheshire who received sentences of four years in prison were foolish to plead guilty to those charges. They effectively admitted that they intended to incite riots and believed their actions would facilitate that. Their foolishness can perhaps be attributed to bad advice and the rushed nature of the prosecutions. Nobody, but nobody, should plead guilty to the Serious Crime Act in these circumstances. The Communications Act offences are quite troubling though.

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