I’ve always had a strange relationship with social media. Until very recently I had refused to use it for many years yet recent personal and global changes have found me spending almost all of my time flicking between the different sites.
Just six weeks ago there was one major talking point and a hashtag was born that is still with us now, though starting to fade away under the pressure of our current situation.
When Caroline Flack passed away in February, the public turned ferociously on our countries media. Certain publications took more abuse than others and there was a general feeling amongst us all that the hounding that she suffered was unfair and certainly played a huge role in her death.
The storm began as she made a mistake. This mistake was probably out of character and blown out of all proportion due to her celebrity status, she was honest enough to admit to her errors and we all later found out about the underlying mental issues that resulted in taking such drastic measures and ending her life.
So how is this relevant today? Last night whilst hopping between different social media accounts I noticed a picture that had obviously gone ‘viral.’ The picture was simple, just a middle aged man with a shopping trolley containing four packets of toilet rolls.
The comments on each post were shocking. The public wishing him ill health, calling him every name imaginable and many campaigning to share the picture so that he could be identified and the angry mob of keyboard warriors can track him down.
The shopper was probably an idiot, but we do not know that. He, much like Caroline Flack, could have mental health issues and this level of abuse could cause severe damage to him. But this was not my main concern.
This man could be a hero. He may have been buying these rolls to share with elderly neighbours or those in complete isolation. Perhaps his family work for the NHS and he has gone shopping for them as they can’t reach shops due to their hours. The gentleman could be a key business owner who’s regular supplier are now out of stock and he needs this shopping. He may just be a guy with ten kids himself just doing his normal shopping. Whatever his circumstances, he sure won’t be buying in bulk again and maybe this will hurt others.
Social media is powerful. Should my family or neighbours fall ill I would of course do some shopping for them. Should I be fearful if this happens? I am only human (barely that sometimes) and would struggle to cope with seeing my image going around the world with such hatred, threats and spite attached. If a rock lands through my window because I bought toilet roll for those in my community I would not be doing it again.
The famous hashtag to emerge from the tragedy of Caroline Flack was ‘Be nice.’ It is simple and can save lives. Sadly there will always be horrific people in the world, many of whom are currently looking to cash in on the pandemic. Some companies putting the wealth of their company before the health of their staff.
The power of social media has stopped these people in their tracks, sorry Mr Ashley! They are true villains that have been stopped by public power. Had the country not met Sports Direct’s decision to stay open with such distain, they may still be trading now.
The moral of the story is that we as the public hold such great power and social media gives us such an incredible platform to use this power to either improve the world or to spread hate.
Pictures will continue to emerge forever of people we do not know taking actions we may not approve of. Just remember that we do not know their circumstances or their reasons.
I sincerely hope that the man with the excess toilet roll has no idea of the storm he has created and that he has not spent the last day reading the abuse he has received, though I doubt it. There has never been a better time to #bekind.
I’m going to try something new this week. My mission will be to make one post per day on social media that makes people smile and laugh. This won’t be easy given my lack of video and photo skill alongside my terrible sense of humour but I like a challenge. The world needs to smile right now and I will try and do my very tiny bit too help. Those that saw my isolation 11 attempt will see how tough humour is for me!
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New year is be a strange time, full of hangovers that last too long and resolutions that fade away too quickly. Luckily for me I have grown up into a smart man and only had to deal with one of those issues this year. I’ve never liked resolutions anyway.