Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones, but Media can Do more Damage

Posted in Personal, Social Media

Why should it take for another death in the spotlight to evaluate how the Press and those on Social Media should be held accountable?

Disclaimer: This post will contain sensitive content such as suicide and mental health, that may be a trigger to those who are affected. There are sources of support at the end of the post which I would encourage you to access if you need to.

On Saturday 15th February, Caroline Flack had sadly died by suicide, and instantly everyone was mourning for her loss… including those who had previously slated everything about her in the media.

I have no close connections to the actress, but her death still reminds me of what I’ve had to endure with those close to me who have died by suicide – my Dad being one of them. I can only relate to the pain, confusion and anger her family and friends will be experiencing.

But it appears that every nasty comment, snide remark or criticism published in the media about her, and many others in the centre of the public eye, should be forgotten about when a tragedy occurs. But now is a time where those who hide behind the pen or keyboard and post horrible stuff should be held accountable.

There appears to be no consequences to those who can hide behind a pen/screen and move on to the next attack. A human being is reading that content. For some reason everyone forgets that they are a human being who has feelings, emotions and can be crushed at anything damaging/hurtful.

“It’s just a joke”

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

You might find it funny – but picking at someone’s hang ups, vulnerability and even threatening them behind an anonymous mask is not funny.

If what you are posting is something you would not wear on a t-shirt, or stick it on a bumper sticker, then why does it need to be said on the internet or in the press?

Of course there is the argument of if you would wear it/stick it somewhere, then why is that the case? What is your argument for it? What are the facts and are they accurate and credible? Not through hearsay or leaked and anonymous ‘sources’.

We have a responsibility

I have shared about how content creators and influencers need to be aware of what they are posting. Particularly, as young people between the ages of 16 and 24 years use the internet in some capacity almost every day:

Statistics from Office for National Statistics on the use of Internet by age group in the last three months of 2019

What is worrying is how it is reported that young people experience or suffer with anxiety; from self-esteem to fear of missing out. But it can also be the root to bullying based on ‘others views’.

We all will never agree on the same things – granted. But if you cannot say something constructive and educational to support your argument, then don’t say anything. Especially if it’s going to get personal.

The following tweet was from a 1D magazine about the late Caroline Flack. This magazine is targeted for young teenagers who adored the likes of Harry Styles.

Now, I want you to read the content of this magazine and answer the following questions:

  • Can you imagine how Caroline would have felt reading that?
  • How would you feel if that was written about you?
  • Would you want your child reading that sort of content?

The fact that someone wrote this in the first place is one thing. But this was also approved to be published. There is no need for this sort of press or publicity.

I wish I could say that’s the only example. But as much as The *** or other media outlets remove old content that berated her, the Internet will still hold onto screen-grabs and other sources… such as Wikipedia. Check the references out – nothing reliable or credible to Caroline – just articles full of gossip. The best way to not feed into it is to not read or click on them. They do much more damage than good.

We are taught in Education that you have to back an argument up with facts, statistics, reliable sources. Why should the press hide behind “sources” or know of someone’s Auntie-triple-removed-cousin of the Queen who said this. We wouldn’t accept that in an essay or a legal report. So why should we accept it in the media on and offline?

“But she was in the wrong”

In light of the accusations between Caroline Flack and her boyfriend – we have no idea what the truth is and we will never know the truth.

The commentary by the press and social media have manipulated aspects of the trial and alleged incidents. It has now reached a point that we assume that when someone speaks up, they are making an excuse.

But it’s the same for every case covered – Making a Murderer has been its own victim of manipulation of the press and social media. I have been guilty of reading too much into social media. Therefore thinking one aspect of what I’ve read, when I’m not actually being attuned to what really is going on.

This morning I read that her family had released a draft post by Caroline days before she died. There are many articles about this – but LBC’s Rachel Venables reports the following:

Putting facts and statistics aside, this is my personal view. The press and social media took her voice away.

I have previously said that it is okay to use your platforms in a way that you want to – such as sharing the realities of what’s really going on behind the scenes. But because of the attention psyched up by the press and social media – sometimes that is not the case for some people.

It isn’t just celebrities who are affected by the Media

It doesn’t matter what sector you work in; be it blogging, business, education or art. The media and those hiding behind keyboards have a lot to be held accountable for. It’s damaging to anyone’s emotional, mental and physical health, with only consequences to those who are in the centre, and affected by, by the story. 

We tend to want gossip no matter what sector we work or are interested in. But why should it come with a price for others? Whether they have allegedly done something right or wrong, that does not excuse the need to be nasty and get personal.

If it has been proven they were in the wrong, and committed a crime, then they should be punished in accordance to the Law. We forget that we are not the Jury, and sometimes need to take a step back at times.

So much more needs to be done.

We can all be kinder to each other. Educate each other when we don’t agree with something. But ultimately, we should also not accept everything that we see or hear immediately.

I never want anyone to experience what I went through as a teenager or young adult. But to have it all published in the press is unimaginable.

Many people unfortunately die by suicide. While there is much coverage around Caroline Flack, we as a society can do more. By being kind, reaching out and listening – all while putting our maps of the world to one side.

Until next time,

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