Saturday, 7 December 2013

A great read about Nelson Mandela on

The subtle media whitewash of Nelson Mandela from political firebrand to cuddly, smiling Uncle happened well before his death. I remember a few years back (maybe it was his 90th birthday) watching a show with celebrities offering trite, gushing tributes to Mandela. I particularly recall David Beckham appearing and rattling on about Mandela's strength and how he was an inspiration to us all in utterly vague terms. I don't mean to rag on Beckham in particular, but I expressed interest at the time if he knew the first thing about the politics of Mandela, because he, or the show, certainly didn't relay anything of substance in that regard. The media's cultural inertia just told the UK that he was an innocent man who got put away for ages and was dead stoic and old and grinned a lot on telly. And that's about it. And while we've got the Tories and right wing media championing him along with the rest, it's good to remind ourselves of the opinions he did have that challenged the right. And if we consolidate them alongside the image of the smiley, benevolent elder statesman we were presented it might help us understand the importance of his contemporary political observations...

 Six Things Nelson Mandela Believed That Most People Won’t Talk About

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Daley Dozen.

It's been another one of those days on Facebook and Twitter. It might appear like my psyche is currently entirely reserved for disdain towards the everyday trends that pop up on our social networks, but if you'll just indulge me this one more then I promise I'll leave it alone for a few weeks.

As far as Facebook goes, today's treatment of the news about Tom Daley coming out has been great as far as I can see it. There have been a lot of sarcastic tweets with people spelling out how his sexuality is of no consequence to them and quite a few congratulatory tweets lauding Tom for leading the way for other sports personalities. Of course, converse to the observations on my last blog (which I won't mention again today...) that's exactly what you'd expect of the circle of friends of the faux-punk, lily-livered liberal that I've been repeatedly assured I am over the last few days. If someone posts homophobic, or indeed overtly racist or misogynistic things, I'll generally just un-friend them. But of course, I know this behaviour exists. I see and hear it across the internet and across real life.

We all know it's there.

Do we really need 'best of's?'

Tom Daley, winner of today's internet.
Is it just me that is getting suspicious of these blogs that make compilations of the 20 worst tweets then post them to Tumblr as an example of all the bad things that are being said? I'm sure this phenomenon started well-meaning enough. First time I was really aware of it was the litany of disgusting tweets supporting the boys in the Steubenville High School rape case showcased on a webpage. The tweets were truly disturbing and a worthwhile window into a culture that castigates victims of rape if the social circumstances are convenient enough. It was eye-opening. But from there these tweet compilations moved into other territory such as sexist responses to Miley twerking to teenage idiot girls tweeting how they'd still like to shag Chris Brown after all the bad things he did. I clicked through one today, offering to lift the lid on all the awful things the UK public had to say about Tom Daley and was left feeling slightly confused about the practicalities of a list that basically comprised of a Twitter search for the words 'Daley' and 'fag'. And I was also left feeling slightly had.

Because you click and look at them don't you? It's a bit like rubbernecking at a car crash. If a car crash was a faceless pillock using text speak to present their bigoted worldview on their phone while they wait for a bus. But these aren't the kind of people who are going to be overly concerned about appearing on a Tumblr list of this sort. Quite the contrary. If someone's throwing the word 'fag' about on Twitter, chances are they're only going to be too happy to appear on that kind of a wall of shame. And I know, because I've just ten minutes looking at people attacking them on Twitter and they're just laughing at then AND getting retweeted by other bigots to boot. Whatever we're doing, it isn't working.

Maybe I'm getting cynical in my old age but now I can't work out whether the people who make these lists are genuine... or just going for clicks, publicity and the chance of some filthy lucre for their own website in the name of social consciousness. Maybe a bit of both? I think we're just sharing them on our Facebooks without even wondering about the motives of those who have compiled them. And even if the motives are sound, I think they are, judging by today's response, misguided.

All those saying homophobic things on social media about Tom Daley deserve to be called out. The culture of Facebook and Twitter and other sites should be muscular in its disapproval and express outrage and anger at these outmoded schools of thought. I absolutely support the idea that this behaviour should be challenged and social media is a place where that's not only appropriate, it's the right thing to do. But whereas a criticism or challenge from someone you know, follow or speak to online might make you change your mind, a mass social attack from a faceless group of vengeful strangers who have seen your post displayed on another stranger's blog is likely to be much less persuasive. Frankly, they'll probably just tell you to fuck off.

We don't need webpages re-presenting this dirge on a list to know it goes on, furthering the oxygen of publicity and attention these daftpots crave. And so, I'm not clicking any of these bloody 'look at all the shit things they said on Twitter' lists any more.

Until The Sunlight Comes...

Barney x

p.s. Don't ask for a link to the list. For obvious reasons!