Tuesday, 31 July 2012

When offensive tweets are retweeted by the offended

Today a Seventeen year old has been arrested in Dorset following comments made on twitter towards the British Olympic diver Tom Daily. The comments made were along the lines of that he had let his dad (who passed away recently) down by not winning a medal in the diving event.

The comments were made on twitter and then subsequently retweeted by irate fans of the diver in order to draw attention to them. There have been calls for twitter to clamp down on this sort of behaviour and for action to be taken sooner when such comments arise.

Now, while I am by no means condoning posting abusive comments at anyone else on any form of social media, I do think the question also needs to be asked as to how these comments then get out of hand when they are retweeted by individuals in order to spark outrage on behalf of the offended party.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for what we do on the internet. This seventeen year old is responsible for tweeting a malicious comment at one of our Olympic athletes, and should perhaps rightly be challenged on those comments. However, the only way that a comment like that can get out of hand is if multiple users retweet it, be that to agree with it, or in this case, to voice offense over it. And it is then that I believe we should question whether if you retweet a comment like that, you are essentially helping to spread its message, even if you wish to voice your disapproval of that message.

The only person responsible for putting that offensive comment on twitter was the individual who wrote it. But as soon as that comment was retweeted, every person who retweeted it is equally culpable in spreading its message. We all have the right to be offended or outraged at anything we read. But equally we all have the power to walk away instead of escalating something which probably wasn’t worth giving attention to.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Have we become too mobile phone reliant?

This week mobile phone customers were left without coverage due to failings in the O2 network. Millions of customers were left without any mobile phone signal for around 36 hours.

Twitter and facebook, and the news sites were full of angry customers, all complaining about just how ridiculous it is that they were unable to use their mobile phones, either for talking, texting, or surfing the internet.

But this for me raises a different question – the question of just how reliant we as a society have become on the need to be in constant communication with one another, at all times, and that when we lose that means of communication, we become anxious.

I remember when I was growing up, the mobile phone didn’t yet exist, well not in mainstream format anyway. I knew a couple of people who had carphones, enormous bulky things they were, and we just concluded that they were posh, and rich, and, dare I say it, a little bit pretentious.

But then mobile phones became more widely available, and although we hadn’t yet entered a stage where permanent attachment had seemingly become a necessity, it had become more acceptable to own one, and people would be more reliant on being able to communicate with one another outside of the home.

Now mobile phones are an almost essential part of our daily lives, and contrary to twenty years ago, you are seen as somewhat outdated if you either don’t own one, or are not permanently attached to the one you do own. I’ve heard people get quite upset if someone doesn’t return their text messages within minutes, or doesn’t answer their mobile phone. Not being within reach of communication is no longer seen as acceptable.

So the question is, have we become too reliant on our mobile phones? If we drop out of communication for a time, what’s the worst that can really happen? And in fact, have we built up an expectation that all people should be reachable at all times, and that if they’re not there is something wrong with that?

How attached are you to your mobile? More to the point, how expectant are you of other people that they will have mobile phones which are both switched on and readily available?