"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Friday 4 January 2013

It's only words.......*

Words have always been important, of course. But with the rise of social networking and blogging perhaps the power of 'written words' in the 21st century has re-gained a prominence that has not occured since the rise of newcasting and documentary programmes in audio/visual media.

Newspapers now also have an online presence. They get two 'goes' at getting their stories across to those of the public who have access to the world wide web. An overheard comment about, f'r instance, a story in The Sun can send one scurrying to its' url. [Actually that happened this morning. I would never buy that paper but heard on the news that they feel mandated - tongue in cheek - to reply to the President of Argentina's letter which appeared in the Guardian and Independent yesterday. But I digress]

However the potentional to misuse words within the social networks is immense. Bullying becomes easy - and not just between teenagers. Discussions can turn into slanging matches and there are several markers to watch out for:
1. But - What I have just said was reasonable, now I am going to say something really nasty/racist/sexist , which is what I really think.
2. No offence intended - I can now be as offensive as I like because I have said I don't mean it but I really do.
3. Don't get me wrong but - Both of the above, really.
4. I am only telling you for your own good - Because I have a different opinion to you, you are WRONG.
5. Making an insulting comment humourous^ does not lessen its' potential to hurt [see^ below]

But bullying seems to be invading our society, sadly. David Cameron is only too good at it. Listen to him [yes I know it is hard] in Prime Minister's Questiontime. When he is answering something he does not like, a hectoring tone enters his voice and if he can slip in a pejorative comment about his questioner/the question subject he will. Other politicians are guilty of this too.

Face to face discussions all too readily descend into slanging matches. Watch Newsnight or Questiontime, listen to Any Questions or a 'phone in radio programme. Where are those debating skills of which we used to be so proud? Some individuals think they can deliver a really cutting comment to another and laugh, thus 'easing' the pain they have just inflicted. Well it doesn't, actually.

Cabinet ministers deliver bullying speeches - by suggesting that many benefit claimaints do not deserve their welfare benefits or are lazy etc. I suspect that many elderly people felt guilty at taking the measly amount that is paid out as the heating allowance [cut from what it was a couple of years ago btw] after all the media attention given to various [better off] elderly people [celebrities mostly] and government spokespeople were stating publicly that many pensioners did not need the payment. Forget the years that many of us have paid tax to receive these 'benefits'. Change the word to 'entitlements' and see the perspective change. And 'better off pensioners' of course pay tax and if the automatic 'entitlements' are included as taxable income...... work it out George Osbourne. Oh sorry, perhaps you can't?^ [See how easy it is to make a nasty, bullying quip?]

Please, let us start this New Year by being kinder to one and other. Bullying is too easy to do and hard from which to recover.

Wishing you all a Peaceful and Joyous 2013.

* Apologies to the Bee Gees

The picture above is of a poster for the 2010 film The Social Network

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