It is no longer remarkable that our press runs stories of unimaginable trivia. On any given day you’ll find stories like the one in which a tragic accident in the snow forced a mother to amputate her young daughter’s… hair. Yes, her cheap headband got wet in the snow and the blue dye left a mark which could not be shampooed out. The poor child will have a permanent blue streak… until her next haircut.
But there is another trend even more troubling than the belief that the media – and thus the world – must be alerted and informed of every person’s vapid and petty experience. As social media spread, at first we were content to merely tweet every triviality. But then increasingly convinced of our own importance we were easily enticed to whinge and complain to the press so some hack could turn nagging nugatory into news nugget. But this self-aggrandizing delusion could not end there.
It is simply astonishing how we now expect the police to intervene in petty squabbles on social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter. It is the modern equivalent of children shouting “Daddy, Jimmy said a bad word!” and “Mum!! Sally says I must eat worms and everybody hates me!”.
This story just caught my eye in The Telegraph: Paramedic ‘wished life threatening illness’ on Mid Staffs campaigner
In the story we learn that paramedic Murph Guest “launched the attack” on the founder of ‘Cure the NHS’, Julie Bailey. What was the nature of this attack? Was Ms Bailey left bruised and bleeding? No, it turns out that this “attack” which “upset” Bailey was a Facebook status update by Mr Guest which read:
“Julie Bailey, I hope you suffer a life threatening illness at night where you have to travel furthur [sic] than you should do because your local hospital is closed (your fault),”
Clearly this is just a clumsy way of saying “One day I hope you’ll need the facility you’re trying to harm and if it isn’t there for you, you’ll only have yourself to blame”. This is a fairly standard response to situations like this, but even if Guest had wished Bailey would drop dead, so bloody what? Facebook wishes have no effect on physical reality.
Nevertheless, we learn that Bailey…
… has contacted the police, adding: “I believe that this man is an ambulance controller. I am concerned about what would happen if I was to have an accident and I was to phone the ambulance service and he was there in the control room.”
This is hysterical nonsense, only encouraged by being given column inches in a national daily. Instead someone should be sitting the silly woman down and telling her to get a grip.
But who can blame her. She is only the latest in a long line of silly people who have involved the police because of rude and obnoxious messages posted on social media. Disgracefully, some of these complaints have led to convictions. Disturbingly, according to the Financial Times:
Hundreds of people have been charged with crimes involving social media during 2012 as complaints involving Facebook and Twitter have increased 780 per cent over the past four years, according to British police figures.
Behind almost every complaint must be some delicate flower who has been convinced that some nasty words by another nobody are of some consequence. They are egged on by a press so increasingly lacking in substance that they describe a few harsh words as a vicious attack and have scarcely vocabulary left for genuine attacks. And for what? To fill up their pages with more and more rubbish they can attach a banner advert to? And the police, have they nothing better to do? Parents learn pretty smartly to stay out of childish squabbles.
What kind of society will we have after much more of this foolishness?