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Twitter and the Changing Face of Society (or Now We Know What You Really Think You Vile Pigs)


Estimates vary from five per to twenty, but whatever the percentage it is a fact that a significant portion of the population are a bunch of tw@ts. 

Everyone has always kind of known this. The aggressive road rage driver, the aggressive drunk twenty-year old or the aggressive tracksuit-wearing mother shouting obscenities at her five year old. Can you see there’s a lot of aggression here? Some people just aren’t very nice.

But it’s not just that, there’s also the blokes in the pub making racist comments to each other, the blokes at work telling racist jokes and the racist parents teaching their kids to how to be racially insulting. Yes, there’s a lot of racism around, too.

The only difference is that today, this aggression, those insults and these points of view are recorded for everyone to see. Welcome to the colourful world of twitter.

A more accurate snapshot of people’s darkest beliefs could only be made if someone were to invent a machine that could transcribe people’s thoughts directly to the internet. Though, judging by the way that some people lack any form of self moderation in the things that they tweet, this is hardly necessary.

But this is the good news: Twitter will have a hugely positive effect on aggression and racism in society.

I’ll gloss over Twitter’s history, how many users it has and how it disperses and defines the news.

Twitter today is a mirror on society. Conversations that were previously confined to the park, pub or behind closed doors can now be read online in bite-sized sentences.

While much of the population use the platform to cheerily reveal thoughts on X Factor or their plans for the evening, others just can’t help themselves.

Out comes the bile, the racism, the spite and the abuse. It’s as revealing about society as it is disturbing. But we should appreciate that we are now able to read streams of consciousness of what other people think.

The term ‘internet troll’ has been coined for those tweeters who go a bad step further and start personally abusing those they don’t like the look of. In Britain there are daily instances of celebrities being abused, racially or otherwise, and of others in the public eye who have closed their accounts because the vile comments are too upsetting to read.

Thankfully, there have also been a number of cases where the abusers have been quickly arrested, cautioned or charged by police – most recently the 17-year-old who tweeted to British Olympic diver Tom Daly that he had let his dad down after failing to win a medal in the synchronised 10m platform. Daly’s father died in 2011.

Similar arrests by police have followed abuse of footballers on twitter. Another Twitter abuser was jailed and booted off his university course. It’s a routine I hope is repeated.

If it is, what we will see is these people who think their opinions is all that matters getting the message that they could suffer consequences if they continue airing their disgusting comments.

And if these nasty buggers start employing a degree of self moderation in what they tweet, they in turn may not verbalise these thoughts. Eventually, they may even stop thinking them. Yes, I know this is a long way off and there will be stupid, stubborn exemptions. But it’s a positive step if fear of legal action or loss of their job stops a racist tweeting about ‘black b@stards’ or ‘our ethnic friends’.

In this respect, the mirror that Twitter is on society will ultimately have a positive effect on the people who use it. And that’s not bad for a rather dumb social media platform.

Now, try saying all that in 140 characters.

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This entry was posted on August 14, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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