The monopolization and manipulation of public narratives by the powerful has long been a pernicious political reality on both a national and global level. Invariably, they who shout the loudest somehow assert a claim to legitimacy, despite the commonly ill-conceived and downright harmful nature of the content being peddled.
By Jonathan Lee
Cw: hate speech, extremism
Ever seen a comment on Facebook that really riled you up?
Probably. But I mean one that really floored you – stopped you mid-scroll, and in a red mist, made you click those three innocuous little dots on the right and Submit to Facebook for Review?
by Joe Rutter
Last week a fishy deal was struck, as Facebook donated £4.5 million to the National Council for the Training of Journalists. It’ll fund some 80 traineeships with local newspaper publishers that will last two years. Fantastic, on the face of it. On the face of it (the mantra on which Facebook was built) a rainbows-and-flowers deal, an altruistic gesture on behalf of the almighty Facebook to rescue the vulnerable and decrepit print journalism industry from destitution. A good cause, I’m sure we can agree, for the Zuckerberg zillions: better than nuclear weapons or propping-up dictatorships. So let’s leave it at that, shall we? Except then there’s this lingering feeling that something more, something insidious, is happening.
Content warning: mentions sexual violence, abuse, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse and violence
Last week saw the hashtag #MeToo achieve viral success, following the accusations multiple women made again Hollywood director Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag started when actress Alyssa Milano, tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem”.
The next week, social media was bombarded with personal account of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, assault and domestic violence. Famous celebrities talked about their experiences and within 24 hours, Facebook reported that 4.7 million people engaged with the #MeToo hashtag with over 12 million posts and comments. Most of the media’s reaction has been positive – finally we are acknowledging that sexual violence is a pervasive problem rather than a few isolated incidents, they say.
by Janice Miller
Being the new kid at school has always been hard, and schoolyard bullies have existed since there were schools. But bullying has evolved over time and the majority of it now exists online. One of the main problems that children face these days is online harassment – also known as cyberbullying. This form of bullying can be extremely potent because the harassment is often anonymous and can be spread to hundreds of people in a matter of minutes. Here are some tips for parents on how to help your child if they’re facing this situation.
If you find out your child is being cyberbullied – either from them or from reading their texts/social media messages – the first thing you should do it react appropriately. Don’t overreact and ban them from the internet, or go on a tirade in front of their friends. Don’t under-react by saying that it’s just what kids do and they must learn to get over it. Both of these approaches will only make -the problem worse. React appropriately by letting them know that you understand their situation, you think it’s serious, it’s not their fault, and you will help them get through it.
Tweak privacy settings
Most social media sites and blogging sites where cyberbullying often occurs have tons of privacy options that you can use to help thwart a cyberbully. Block any users that are bullying your child on their Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr accounts. Report abuse.
Talk to the appropriate authorities
You’re doing your child no favors by keeping their cyberbullying under lock and key. You should contact your child’s school and see if they can intervene. If the cyberbullying is severe and contains threats of violence or extreme invasion of privacy (posting sensitive information about your child, leaking hacked materials) then you should certainly contact the police. Cyberbullying.org notes that parents of cyberbullies may become defensive and confrontational if presented with evidence of their child’s activities, so it pays to be careful in this regard.
Create a healthy home environment for your child
Focus on the elements that you can control – for example creating a healthy, stress-free environment at home. Make sure your home is clean and de-cluttered. Practice healthy habits with your family, like a good diet and a focus on getting enough exercise. Redfin.com notes that natural light in the home plays a key role in overall happiness and wellbeing, so keep your curtains open and spend a lot of time with your kids in the backyard.
Finally, you want to create a home environment where communication is open and honestly is rewarded. The best tool you have to help your child fight against cyberbullying is knowledge, and you can’t know what your child feels if they don’t feel comfortable talking to you about it. Withhold judgment, overreaction, and any punishment for their online activities. Simply listen and offer help.
Teach your child that they must be better than their bully
Your child must know that when they go to school, it’s paramount that they rise to a higher level than their bully. They should know that retaliation is never a good idea, as it often emboldens the bully and make them more aggressive. They should always be kind to everyone and do their best to ignore the bullying.
It’s unfortunate that kids these days have to deal with cyberbullying, but it’s a prevalent problem. Bullies aren’t going away, and neither is the internet – so this problem is likely here to stay. As a parent, it’s your job to keep communication lines open, intervene when necessary, and teach your children how to react to a bully.
Please note: The Norwich Radical and the author are not cyberbullying experts, nor do we presume to be taken as such. The above are suggestions from a contributing parent, and should not be considered the golden standard in the case of cyberbullying.
Featured image via Pixabay
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by Eli Lambe
Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.
There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”
By Eve Lacroix
Content warning : Article mentions rape threats, harassment, racism
In The Question Concerning Technology, Heidegger argues that technology is a means to an end, and that technology is a human activity. The two are not mutually exclusive. Technology is a means to facilitate our lives, eliminating manual or tedious or repetitive tasks. We use technology for our human need of community, connecting to friends and family through social media, searching for partners on dating apps.
By Sam Naylor
Kellyanne Conway has been making headlines this week. Sent out to explain away Sean Spicer’s bizarre comments regarding the crowds at Trump’s inauguration, she said “we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there”. Alternative facts, huh? How’s this:
Last week saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders. As the world witnessed the honesty and good intentions of the new administration firsthand over the next few days, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged (it sold out on Amazon). Commentators were broadly bemused. Why, with a president of unparalleled frankness ascending to the Oval Office, was a narrative of lies and alternative facts, paradoxes and doublethink, a story of a nation which unashamedly proclaimed “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength”, becoming so popular?
by Andrejs Germanis
In the few years that I have been watching films it is a rare occasion that a film would receive an ovation at the end of the performance. This was the case during a recent preview showing of Snowden.
The latest Oliver Stone written and directed dramatization of actual events was shown as part of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. The film, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden and Shailene Woodley as Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s girlfriend, depicts the events that before and shortly after the shocking reveal of 2013 that the US government is spying on their citizens. The events are presented in an interview format between Snowden and the group of The Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto), Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo) and Ewan MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson).
Data is a commodity. It is a digital blueprint of our lives that we leave behind wherever we go on the internet and in life. Many of us consider it to be of little interest. After all, what does it matter where or what we shop for? Who cares about the sites we search for via Google and what pages we like on Facebook? Well, it turns out that our governments and private companies do.
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.
by Joe Cook
We live in a magpie society
Shiny objects we crave
If you want to live like a king you best work like a slave
When there’s spoilt brats talking about their sweet 16
There’s children whose drinking water ain’t even clean
Daddy didn’t get you the car you wanted?
I hope that old mansion you live in turns out to be haunted
Out of the May 5th elections the biggest story was the criticism of the coverage by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets. Particular focus of this was on BBC Question Time and the BBC Political Editor, . This isn’t the first time that Kuenssberg has come under fire and it probably won’t be the last. A petition was doing the rounds demanding an independent review of how biased her actions may have been but has now been taken down. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the alleged Tory fraud in the last General Election has generated a sense of distrust in the BBC, an organisation that states: ‘impartiality lies at the heart of the public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences’.
by Cadi Cliff
On Tuesday night, landmark buildings from Germany to Dubai were lit up with the Belgian flag — a sign of solidarity after the horrific attacks in Brussels. The attacks — two bombs at the city’s main airport, and one at a metro station near the EU headquarters— have killed at least 30 individuals and injured hundreds of others. Daesh (read: the so-called Islamic State) have claimed responsibility for the attacks. It’s the most violent terrorist attack to hit Europe since the November attacks in Paris, which killed 130. But this is not the first, or even 100th, terrorist attack since Paris — though this certainly will be reported on by the Western media far more than the rest combined.
Since Paris there have been hundreds of terrorist attacks worldwide. Attacks that didn’t result in tricolour Facebook profile pictures; attacks that didn’t lead to projected flags on lumps of architecture. Their narratives are only a headline, barely breaking. The descriptions are factual, not empathetic. There is no footage of candlelight vigils played on a loop on the news outlets. The shock factor simply isn’t there for the media splash if it’s a country that gets attacked again and again and again.
by Robyn Banks
On Monday, French authorities moved in to begin a mass eviction of the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle, resulting in ‘clashes’ between the police and activists alongside refugees. Unfortunately, that seems to be about as much as anyone really knows. As my house is currently full with donations for the camp, I was pretty invested in finding out exactly what was going on. Which charities should I contact now? What do they need? Where will all the refugees go and how many of them will remain?
As I scrolled through page after page of pictures of tents on fire and riot police, every headline seemed to be ‘Clashes between police and…’ and even those that were helpful were contradictory. It seems that misinformation is rife, whether deliberate or due to the incompetency of authorities on the ground, and even long term and well informed activists in the camp have been confused.
by Josh Wilson
I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how there is no chance for anyone to win outright in Syria. Since that article the tragic events in Paris have taken place and leaders from around the world alongside ordinary citizens have reacted to the news. As with all heartbreaking events, reactions have been fuelled by emotion, with the debate surrounding tricolore Facebook photo becoming a heated element of reaction to the atrocity. Many took up the option offered by Facebook to drape the French flag over their profile picture. I do have my reservations about this, mostly regarding Facebook picking and choosing which tragedies to offer this show of solidarity for. However, in a time of grief and high emotion I think this is a debate best left for another time.
By Sam Naylor
A feeling of instant gratification is on the menu and I know where I rush to get my fix. For most of us social media has become a daily part of our lives. How many of us wake up in the morning and check our social media presence? It is one of those little habits that has become a fixture of my daily routine and one that we’re finding increasingly difficult to disconnect from. We’ll just scroll one more time, just click that last video, read the article from that last link. Facebook is a great way to get your opinions out to all 1,125 of your ‘closest friends’ and for you to experience theirs. It can often feel like an extension of our own thought process, that we could just post that instantaneous nugget of knowledge as a status update. In fact Facebook cares that much about what we have to say that it politely asks “What’s on your mind?”, urging us to divulge in an opinion that it oh so wants to hear. The false companionship and the sense of familiarity that social media apps give us are aspects that keep us coming back, which have us glued to virtual text on a screen rather than worrying about dialogues set in the ‘real world’. Facebook is not a substitute for our own opinions.