“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things” – Terry Pratchett
TW for mentions of potential death by suicide.
Nobody is perfect.
Nobody on this planet we call Earth is perfect; and if one thinks themselves perfect, that’s imperfection in itself.
We all know this. We say the same thing over and over, either to ourselves or each other. When we’re beating ourselves up or see loved ones beating themselves up, or in defence of others when they’re coming under attack.
The people this phrase seemingly doesn’t apply to is people in the public eye. Another phrase that conveniently evades people when it comes to celebrities, and sometimes people in general, is “innocent until proven guilty”.
Of course, if someone has committed a crime then they, like everyone, should face the same consequences.
However, a problem which plagues society, and I think this is relevant to everyone – in the public eye or not – is that when an accusation is made, that person is immediately branded as guilty.
There are many problems with this way of thinking. Sometimes it seems that people are so intent on seeking justice that they forget to seek the truth.
Sometimes there is no legal crime. We’ve seen it over and over. Sometimes words or actions of the past are brought to the present. There might be an accusation or even a misunderstanding / element of ignorance.
If no crime has taken place, and someones past is under scrutiny, maybe first see if they are that same person they were when the post was written or the action took place. See if they are in any way remorseful. Of course they should be accountable for their actions, but if they want to be better then give them a chance to be better. Don’t hold something over them because it gives you a sense of power and righteousness. That doesn’t help anyone.
If someone is ignorant, then inform and educate them. Ignorance isn’t always negligence and it isn’t always intentional or malicious. It just so happens that the person doesn’t have the same information as you. Rather than attack them from the offset, help them grow as a person by sharing that knowledge.
I imagine that shame and humiliation is much more prevalent in society today. There’s a reason why so many young people are anxious. You’re not only judged by those close to you, but the world. Literally, the world. If something is on the internet then it is available for the world to scrutinise, exploit and judge. With or without all of the facts.
If someone has committed a criminal act then let the law deal with it. If you ask me these things have no place on social media or in tabloids. On social media you can hound someone, another human being, and some of the messages are vile, vindictive and malicious. Why? Because you read something in a tabloid or Twitter or Facebook and think it’s somehow justified?
No. It is up to a judge and jury to decide if someone is guilty.
Some crimes are disgusting and abhorrent, and absolutely everyone will naturally have their own thoughts.
However, next time you see something plastered across your screen, ask yourself two questions.
- What evidence is there this crime has taken place?
- Will attacking someone on social media help the situation in any way, and is it worth the risk that the person could take their own life?
Because that’s what this can ultimately lead to. If they can’t see a way out, if they’re struggling, if they feel that the world is against them – it takes two seconds to hit send on a post but the ramifications of that post can last a lifetime.
As a society I think we’ve normalised hate. Whether it’s hating yourself or someone else, some of the comments are so flippant.
How many people can you think of who have been ‘cancelled’ in the past couple of years?
People get angry that the celebrities / influencers they cancel resurface after apologising for any hurt and pain they’ve cause. But I wonder, have they ever paused to think of the alternative?
Social media has given us the ability to connect with people around the world, and yet I think that sometimes people forget that there’s a person behind the other screen too.
It’s awful that it takes something devastating to happen to get people talking about these things, but that’s what happens.
The question is, will we keep this in mind for any future article we read or tweet we post or words we say? Or come tomorrow will we have already move onto the next number one trending topic?
“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” – Rick Riordan