I wanted to post an upbeat thing today about successfully navigating my chair around work for the first time, but I can’t help but feel my small victory isn’t as important.
For those of you who haven’t been near twitter or the UK news today, when I woke up this morning, I was greeted with this: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/21/piggate-hameron-twitter-react-david-cameron-pig-head-claims
I make very little attempt to hide my contempt for both Cameron and his party, but there’s been a nagging sensation about this all day.
Initially i posted a ‘lol’ on a friend’s facebook post, then I scrolled through Twitter seeing people’s flippant comments and the photo montages put together. By this evening, even the satirical video mashup comedian Cassetteboy was in on it.
So we’ve established that I think that the man is a massive callous knob & he’s allegedly done something that in most friend circles would earn you a seriously dodgy knick name, & probably for life, so why is this niggling?
Well, if you remove the fact that he’s the Prime minister & all the hateful things that have happened under his watch, he’s just a man who (allegedly) did something massively stupid in his youth (whilst probably egged on by friends and alcohol). And in response to putting his penis somewhere stupid, the Internet responds with photo montages and some quite unpleasant messages. On a much wider scale than usually seen, this is an example of online bullying. It’s not just a joke, it’s not friends having a dig, it’s being hit with the full force of the Internet. And yet no one seems to have noticed.
Online bullying is worse somehow because it invades every aspect of your life and it’s almost impossible to get away from. It’s something lots of kids experience once & find it hard to deal with. (For those who do, the http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk website is a good start).
This isn’t a political stance or measure that we’re angry about. This is openly and unkindly mocking another human. Why would we want to do that?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been following a story relating to the continued threats made to Anita Sarkeesian. These have ranged from the standard troll comments to detailed death and rape threats, and now to a threat against a university if they allowed her to speak. (Link here)
This woman must be about to unleash some awfully sensitive or dangerous information… oh. Hold on. No. She made a series of videos and blogs about feminism in gaming.
I don’t particularly agree with some of the things she says. Having played games on various devices since I was tiny, I don’t think the games industry is trying to put women off. Those games that have become more and more misogynistic… I don’t buy them. Nor would I buy them for my kids.
I am a massive advocate for parents actually clueing themselves up on what a PEGI rating is and why buying an 18 rated game for a 10 year old is basically damaging.
I’ve gone off on a tangent…
My point is that I spend a large percentage of my life trying to show young people that anyone can enjoy tech, that being a geek is awesome (just try telling my kids that cryptography is boring – they have been getting encrypted messages from Dr X all week :p ), that girls can code just as well as boys, and developer creative hissy fits are a well recognised phenomenon.
Then I read the news.
Then I dwell on the dark corners of the world I’m encouraging these kids into.
With every living breath I try to pass on the absolute love I feel for Computer Science. But there’s that nagging doubt that it’s going to be tough for the outspoken.
What do I do? I keep going of course. If a pair of breasts close to a keyboard is such a threat, then that is not the fault of the breast-owner. That suggests some deep Freudian insecurity on the parts of these keyboard warriors.
Tim Berners-Lee created the internet to be a vast network of shared thoughts and ideas. By trying to silence one woman, they made her message go global in the national news. It seems the internet bit them back.
Much has been made in the news today about the discovery of a body inside a well in London by a pair of gardeners. Interestingly, what has been glossed over is that the young man who discovered the body and raised the alam was just 17.
Look carefully at these young men.
Picture source: http://bbc.co.uk/news
At first glance, you could put them down as a couple of young people, or ‘hoodies’ as the government so loves to call them. They look and dress like so many young people that are berated and demonised. In a group, you may not want to approach them.
But these two men, raised the alarm upon finding a body. By all accounts they have suffered some serious mental trauma from this experience. The last thing you expect when gardening is to find human remains. But. They may well have instigated the process of putting an entire family’s grief to rest. They may be the catalyst to ending many months, or even years of suffering. They did a good deed that will grow far greater that the initial act itself.
My point here is don’t judge all young people as terrifying hooded youths. These men (and after all, they are young working men) may not be in a uniform, but they have still acted heroicly. In the midst of a personal tragedy for one family, these men have shown on a national platform that young people are, just like the rest of us: mostly, law abiding, good people.
We should make more of young people who undertake positive acts. The more public these people are, the more likely they are to become role models. Who does the majority of media, school and parental attention go to? Is it the positive young role model?
BBC story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24979959