Birdwatching: How social networking can (stupidly) ruin your life

Birdwatching is a column by Eddie King. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Digixav.

My first post may have been a little limp wristed so far as rants go, but, when checking the news, I sometimes get the unexplainable urge to shout at the authors of some of the UK’s worst articles. So, despite it being rather late, I have to alert all of you to how intelligent we really are. because if the level of intelligence required to be a technology journalist amounts to this particular article, then we must all be bloody geniuses and shouldn’t have any problem in taking over the world when we are older. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first of many social networking rants.

I do hope you will take the time to read the article from MSN in full but my attention was drawn by an example about half way through about a man who was sacked from two jobs and fined £1000 for a single tweet. The article in question was entitled “how social networking can ruin your life” and it was basically stoking the anti-Facebook fire and bringing up some real world examples of the effects of being normal in the twenty-first century. First off. I need to protest at the principle that a single phrase comprising of less than 140 characters can cause such a stir as to turn a good man’s life into living hell. At the moment we are fighting several wars and are in the middle of social unrest and confusion on a scale that has never been imagined before due to the world getting smaller, what with racial, sexist and ageist (yes, it exists) abuse and having to live our lives around the idiots who invented health and safety. You really expect me to believe that anybody gives a rat’s fart about some guy complaining about delays at a small airport I didn’t even know existed? It is an outrage.

But now we must discuss the statement at hand. After delays at Robin Hood Airport, a man tweeted about blowing the place sky high in frustration. He was the sued for bomb threats and charged with sending a message that was “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” and sacked from his jobs over the scandal.

Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!

Generally I do not approve of text speak in written work but I think just such an abbreviation sums up the incident very nicely, that abbreviation being WTF‽ Words don’t even begin to describe how stupid this really is. If the guy really were intent on blowing stuff up, do you really think he would put it on Twitter? And even if he did, he was charged a week later so if he was a terrorist then he could have blown old Robin Hood Airport and many others “sky high” before he was sent a letter asking him to rephrase his annoyance.

I completely understand the government’s need to censor and watch social networking sites and what is being written on them, but the airport didn’t get bombed and the man had no history. It just seems like a case of finding a reason to prove an innocent man guilty and this is unacceptable – almost as bad as the man who went to jail for commenting on the on-pitch heart attack of Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba. I do not follow the Bolton Wanderers every move intently, and so I only heard about what happened in passing, but it did occur to me that the chances of a young football player who is in peak physical condition having a heart attack and being taken to intensive care were pretty slim. Now, imagine an avid fan who is 21 and is studying biology at university. The worst part of this story, however, is that he was sent away for racial abuse. Racial abuse? Because of a heart attack? The charge is just wrong. There are plenty of horrid people out there but sending a guy away to jail for being a hater and then blaming it on him being a racist is just a little extreme in my eyes.

There were some valid ones too where various illicit pictures were involved but, to be honest, on a computer you always have the off button whereas in real life a lot more can happen with far worse consequences. I think people should stop wasting their time trying to teach people how they should think and accept that as long as they aren’t breaking the law they should be allowed to live however they want. And what is more, they should stop trying to blame it on social networking. And for God’s sake, stop writing annoying, sissy, health and safety clad, nanny state, cheap, badly written articles about it because it is very late now and every time you do, I have to devote some minutes of my life pointing out to the rest of the world how stupid you are.


    1. When I was reading the post, that did come to mind, as did the American schoolboy who got expelled for swearing in a tweet sent from home and a personal device. I might find a link at some point.

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