Stones and Glass Houses


The story is about the tweets of a 17 year old ‘Police Youth Commissioner’, one of those token jobs set up so that the System can boast that they are listening. The picture comes from The Daily Mail which asks:

Is this foul-mouthed, self-obsessed Twitter teen really the future of British policing? Youth crime tsar’s sex and drug rants

Paris Brown, 17, boasted about her sex life, drug taking and drinking
In one Tweet she wrote: ‘I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies’
And she also said: ‘Everyone on Made in Chelsea looks like a f****** fag’
Appointed to change perceptions of young people
Keith Vaz MP says she must be removed from her £15,000 post immediately
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I posted this comment on Facebook. Reposting here because of some thoughts on social media that are worth following up.

Paying a 17 year old £15000 to ‘represent young people’s views on policing’ seems pretty stupid but the demonizing of this young woman is unfair and an example of media hypocrisy. Her comments are not ‘deeply racist’ or ‘deeply homophobic’ they are ‘superficially racist and homophobic’ and connote impoliteness rather than hatefulness. I know what hateful racism is and this is not what Brown expresses. Her tweets offend aesthetic rather than moral sensibilities and it’s important to distinguish between the two.

Then there is the nature of social media. I use Facebook and blog and post to forums, I don’t really ‘get’ Twitter but I understand that the new social media, in general, facilitates a kind of ‘brain dumping’; you say what’s on your mind without a lot of self censorship. Some of us self censor because we want to appear intelligent but we can all say things that are going to make us look stupid or are going to be misinterpreted by others and this doesn’t just apply to the younger generations. I’m not sure that this is a bad thing; there is a sense in which brainstorming rules apply and a key rule is don’t be afraid to say stupid stuff because if you’re inhibited, you’re likely to miss some really creative ideas. The thing is that when we get into social media we, to greater or lesser extents, agree to ‘glasshouse’ our minds and for any of us to be safe we need to stop throwing stones.

Rebecca Meredith writes in the Huffingdon Post:

Everyone loves social media – and everyone makes mistakes – but we should probably start reminding teenagers that saying horrific things on the internet will be viewed exactly the same way by employers, and by society, as saying them in person.

‘Horrific’ is ridiculously strong for what Brown wrote and possibly employers and society need reminding that saying something on the Internet is not and should not be viewed as the same as saying it in person to a person.