social media

Comment: The Ugly Face of Disability Hate Crime

Following the documentary on BBC Three last night about disability “Hate Crime” I feel I must add my comments. Sorry this is a little long.

I hate the term “Hate Crime” Gene Hunt expresses this best.

How are we ever going to move on, live together and integrate as a society if crimes against any group of people are labelled in such an insane way. It’s justifying why someone committed a grievous act against someone else, reporting a “hate crime” produces two groups of people. Those who support the victim, and those who support the perpetrator as they agree with his or her politics. If a murder is reported as a “murder” one person killed another, we can all pull together and agree that that is a bad thing regardless of our backgrounds.

This approach removes the often incorrect assumption that “he only killed him because he was disabled/white/black/green/gay” No he got killed because he was sleeping with his wife/husband/girlfriend/mother/tortoise/guitar.

Last nights show was presented by Adam Pearson who has neurofibromatosis which causes excess growth of the skin. Which gives him a striking and unusual appearance like many disabled people. Now I like to think that when I’m sat down or propping up a bar I look pretty “normal” I don’t of course, the way I hold myself up, my movement that is both ponderous and jagged are both clear giveaways that I am “different”.

As kids we stare at “difference” it’s a survival technique present in most inhabitants of the earth. Don’t believe me? Walk slowly into a field of cows. They will all look at you, “Who are you? Will you feed us? Will you kill us? Where are your trousers?” If no-one batted an eyelid at things out of the ordinary we and the cows would get killed.

Of course we like to think we have evolved, it makes us feel superior and for the most part it helps us fit in and not be different as the environments we inhabit are largely about inclusion and acceptance, on the surface anyway.

A place where our true feelings are often is expressed is here on the internet. This very page has a comments section. Upon which you are free, with varying degrees of anonymity to call me whatever you like. The comments section can bring out the very worst in people and statements or poor attempts at humour can be misinterpreted.

One of Mr Pearsons TV interviews was posted on YouTube and seemed to be a significant part of the programme. One comment was nasty suggesting that he should have been burnt to death at birth. Harsh you have to say, but the comment was sent to YouTube who didn’t do anything about it. Mr Pearson mentioned “genocide” and I turned off.

It’s a comment on YouTube! The person who made it is probably 12 and as he accompanied his comment with “lol” he was hardly suggesting people hunt you down and burn you. So to suggest genocide is giving this comment much more credence than it deserves. Much better to laugh at it or reply back taking it further “Yeah hideous burns might improve my looks” Thus disarming any malice and perhaps leaving the commenter with a “See him there, he looks a bit weird but he’s alright” feeling winning him over and maybe stopping such comments in the future.

There are times in everyones life where we need to pack our thickest skin (no pun intended) regardless of which groups we align ourselves with. There will always be people who prey on easy targets or promote hatred but we should never underestimate the power of our response.

If you are in the UK or use a VPN (shh!) you can watch the program here.

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Overly Social Media

I’m a old curmudgeon. My mother says I was born an old man. I hate people until they prove worthy of my time, once you are in the circle you pretty much stay there until you choose to leave. In the circle you have benefits like unlimited lifts in the car at pretty much whatever time you like, beer money on the rare occasion I have it, IT/AV assistance, access to slow roasted Lamb and most importantly you can have my last Rolo.

Outside of my group you can pretty much, keel over and die without me batting an eyelid.

Selfish, yes.
Self preservation also.

Social media flies in the face of my survival strategy. Twitter and Facebook (moreso) forces you to form relationships with people you knew 20 years ago, or people you met once on a drunken night out in Rhyll. These people in the cold hard light of day mean less to you than your clan members in Clash of Clans or the members of your faction on Last of Us but because you have seen Barry’s daughter Stacy (whom you never met) take her first steps you feel somehow compelled to write some vapid response to Barry’s status. Which Barry will maybe read, smile and then ignore.

Using Facebook to plan a social gathering is like trying to find a TV presenter from the 1970’s that isn’t in prison. Possible, but hardly worth the effort. The people most likely to attend are your best friends, who whilst on your facebook, are also in your phonebook and textable. Those same people probably ignore Facebook event requests because they are as regular as someone on a fibre rich diet.

Those friends who see the event will also assume that because the Facebook event is visible to all of your 800 “friends” that at least 70 bods will show up. Now friending Dominos in is a great way to get 10% off Pizza but I doubt their CEO cares you are having a “Summer Shindig” so won’t turn up.

I left Facebook long ago, not missed it. All the people near and dear to me, write or talk to me. Not a wall or a time line. Facebook and any online platform, this included, is all too often used to foster a persona, a façade of the frothy. Don’t get me wrong, not everything has to have deep meaning, but it has to be real otherwise we may as well all pretend to be Astronauts.

No-facebook-me

Enjoy

Enjoying the now. You wouldn’t think it’s difficult would you? To enjoy what you are doing, live in the moment. Before I started writing this I was thinking it was just me, but all of us to some degree fail to grasp fully the wonderful things that are occurring. Right now.

Modern life doesn’t help full of distractions and noise. Long time readers of this blog (thank you and that ambulance outside is probably for you) will know that I love my tech. My iPhone much to my bosses displeasure hardly leaves my sweaty palm. But does it let me enjoy my life knowing that a footballer I follow on twitter is talking to another footballer about “Take Me Out” yet I consume.

I have been to many a gig. The focus for many now is not to let go, be absorbed in the music but to video it in full HD, so they can enjoy it later. The later that never comes, or the later that you only enjoy when one of your fellow gig goers dies. Then you’ll sit and look at it and go, “remember when you filmed this.”

Contentment goes against human nature. We will always want more, faster, higher. It’s what has moved us on, moved us out of our caves. But the human race has pretty much gone as far as we can now, and the reality is that most of us aren’t gonna make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

Recently I have had good cause to try and live in the now. I find my myself making plans, plans that would be amazing, but plans that I know I actually have very little control over. These plans then take my focus away from what is happening now, robbing me of not only an unlikely future but an exciting and inspiring present.

Enjoy the now, after all you probably planned this moment ages ago..

Thats how to enjoy the moment.

Private Dancer

Before the advent of the “megapixel” camera when you had to wait 3 weeks for photos that the processing lab stuck little labels over. Before Flickr, Photobucket and Photostream two ways to share photo’s were. The Photo Album or the Slide Show. The only way to express a “like” in such arenas was to open your mouth and say “I like that one.” Voice activated before the X-Box was a twinkle in Windows 3.1’s eye.

Now we publish online. I am writing this piece to be published online, making it accessible to everyone with some type of internet connection. I publish other things too, I have a Gmail account, iCloud, Dropbox, Box.net, Yahoo. I am as online as you can be without involving Satan’s spawn itself Facebook.

Government spies enlisting the assistance of all tech’s major players has hit the news recently. It’s caused what can only be described as a kafuffle. All emails, blogs, pictures of your kids, pictures of the things you used to get those kids are apparently fair game for Mr FBI without your consent or knowledge .

Consent is a funny thing, Every email account, website or photo sharing service you sign up for has terms and conditions. Terms and Conditions that no-one ever reads. So chances are a high percentage of people (myself included) have consented to great deal of things we are unaware of. Granted letting the Government or anyone else look at your stuff probably wasn’t on the list.

Knowledge. You won’t know that anyone has looked at anything you put online. But you must be aware that they might. Even if you just look at human curiosity. If you worked at Flickr and saw a user account from MassiveNorks69, it’s only natural to want to take a sneaky peak. Google and the rest use your email to target advertising or have in the past.

The only way to keep your data safe from prying eyes. Don’t go online. Don’t phone anyone either. Don’t have a bank account, buy everything with cash. Not really practical. So what can we do?

Nothing. The old adage of if you have done nothing wrong you will have nothing to hide applies. I am not one of the tin foil hat brigade, but I’m not stupid enough to assume big companies and governments will respect the sanctity on my online life. That is the price we pay for the convenience of “Likes” “Re-tweets” and “Followers” So Hi there Mr FBI Man…. (I thought they were all shaped like that)

If I Didn’t Have This Blog I’d Cease to Exist (maybe)

Some selected quotes from the greatest thinkers the world has ever produced…

“I think therefore I am” – Descartes

“I have a dream.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“I like big butts and I cannot lie” – Sir Mixalot

“If I didn’t have an opinion, I’d cease to exist.” – Joey Barton

One of those doesn’t deserve to be in that list, anyone guess who?

Anyone who said Sir Mixalot needs to take a long hard look at themselves.

Joey Barton doesn’t of course deserve to be in a list of worlds great thinkers, he is after all just a footballer, captain of Queens Park Rangers. A man who’s footballing talent has been hampered by a violent streak and massive sense of self importance. It has been well documented as to why a man of great footballing skill actually finds himself at premiership new boys QPR but for those of you not in the know here’s a brief recap:-

  • During his time at Manchester City, he stubbed out a lit Cigar in a team mates eye at their 2004 Christmas Party.
  • In 2005 he was sent home from a pre-season tour of Thailand after assaulting a 15 year old Everton fan (who insulted him and kicked him in the shin)
  • In 2007 he assaulted his own team mate Ousmane Dabo at City’s training ground, leaving Dabo in hospital. Dabo pressed charges and Barton pleaded guilty, resulting in a 4 month suspended prison sentence.
  • So following a brief suspension from football, Barton signed for Newcastle Utd. During this time he was found guilty of assault (no not another team mate or pre-pubescent) punching one man over 20 times.. He served a prison term of 77 days.

I could go on, but it’s getting boring.

Joey Barton now is a star on Twitter (@Joey7Barton) this was how he brought his Newcastle Utd career to an end. He openly criticised Newcastle’s board and manager Alan Pardew, resulting in him being released on a free transfer. He continues to air opinions about his fellow professionals and the game in general. Prompting the FA this week to meet with him and discuss social media.

“I feel that the FA came to hush me down or make me not have an opinion. If they came to do that, they picked the wrong person, because there’s no way I can be like that.”

Ok, now let me draw attention to another opinionated man. Stephen Birrell. Birrell was jailed for eight months, for writing some sectarian comments on a Facebook page (from the BBC News website:-)

On 1 March, two days before the Old Firm match, Birrell posted: “Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”
On 4 March, the day after the game, he wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers. Simple ha ha.”
Four days later Birrell posted: “They’re all ploughing the fields the dirty scumbags.”
He also posted abuse directed at the Pope.

Birrell, has not killed anyone, nor assaulted anyone. He expressed an opinion, just as I am doing here and just as Barton needs to do to exist. What both men are too stupid to realise is, the internet is not the place for the throw away comment, the terrace jibes between fans that are over in a second.

Things I put here will stay here for 40 years!. If I insult my boss, there will be consequences. Barton doesn’t think there should be, but that doesn’t matter, in the real world, which twitter is a part, there are consequences so we all must self censor to a degree and learn when it is appropriate for the inappropriate.

This sums it up, when Reading manager Brian McDermott was asked “Are you going to introduce a Twitter policy at Reading?” He replied.
“No need, they are all grown men.”