• Opinion-lead

    Opinion: It’s time for social media users to start minding their language

Opinion

Opinion: It's time for social media users to start minding their language

Posted by James Cartwright,

This week assistant editor James Cartwright encourages social media users to be kinder to each other in the wake of a week of terrible Twitter harassment. Comments below are encouraged as ever…

This week the UK’s Twitter feeds have been awash with malice, vitriol and abuse on more than a few occasions with anonymous feeds unleashing a barrage of insults and threats upon a number of unfortunate victims. The first (and most publicised) case saw Caroline Criado-Perez, a journalist campaigning for more female historical figures to appear on British bank notes, subjected to up to 50 tweets an hour threatening physical and sexual violence as a result of her campaign’s success.

Later on in the week Mary Beard, a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge was tweeted by Oliver Eric Rawlings: “@wmarybeard retweet this you filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting. #bbcradio2 what do you think @theJeremyVine arrest me? #ROLO.” Quite what Rawlings was attempting to achieve with his Tweet is a mystery, and with a mere 243 followers he’s unlikely to have made much of an impact. Even so Beard’s response was a brave one; retweeting his message and forcing him to publicly back down and apologise.

Finally, and rather more comically, there’s been a relentless stream of threats fired in the direction of GQ magazine for their recent depictions of One Direction on their cover. Young One Direction fans (directioners as they like to be known) have been unimpressed both with the choices of photo used and the headlines they’ve been paired with. “@Britsh GQ DO YOU REALIZE HOW MANY PEOPLE WANT TO CASTRATE THE PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR THIS SHITTY MAGAZINE?” was one of the more thoughtful, considered responses to the images, with many others brazenly threatening to inflict all manner of violence upon the GQ staff.

As isolated incidents all of these stories raise concern – threats of violence online should be taken as seriously as in the real world – but as three stories breaking within a single week they suggest an endemic problem with the way many people approach social media, treating it as an anonymous platform to publicly bully those with whom they disagree.

In fact in many ways the case of the menacing One Direction fans raises the most concern. These are a generation of young people raised on the internet, growing up in a world where this kind of flagrant abuse is acceptable. And if adults like Criado-Perez’s tormentors are the role models they have to look up to, then the future of social media looks pretty bleak. Even if Twitter introduces their proposed button to report abuse, it only serves as a faster way of dealing with harassment once it’s happened.

The real problem isn’t with Twitter, it’s with us (myself included from time to time). We spend too much time growing bitter and twisted in front of our screens, desensitised in our use of language due to endless streams of empty written communication. Even the comments feeds of national newspapers are riddled with the hollow, malicious word-vomit of so-called politically minded trolls. (It’s worth mentioning at this point that one of the most appealing aspects of this particular weekly column is the thought and consideration our readers put into their own responses, even those that disagree with what’s been said).

It’s high time we gave more thought to our online communication and the impact it has on others, whether it’s threats of violence or just accidental aggression. Calm down internet, and stop getting your knickers in such a twist.

comments powered by Disqus
Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. Lead

    This week online editor Emily Gosling looks at who can really claim authorship of artworks created using technology designed by someone else. Who can really take the credit for art that might not be possible without the tech know-how of others?

  2. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on an interesting blog by Chloe Markowicz which suggests that people are ashamed to call what they do advertising. As ever you can join the debate and add your comments using the discussion thread below.

  3. Main

    Wake up! Freshers’ Week is done – all that colourful IKEA kitchenware your mum got you is nowhere to be seen and you’ve gained 478 new friends on Facebook and an awkward conversation with your home friends about who you’re actually going to Glastonbury with next year. To be honest, being a fresher usually goes on for way longer than a week. After a month or so of partying and drinking Glenn’s Vodka and Robinson’s out of tupperware bowls you wake up with a whole load of briefs to tackle and studio space and equipment to fight over. This is the START of ART SCHOOL.

  4. List

    In recent months the question of so-called spec work has been raised with us over social media in light of various design competitions we have helped promote. Off the back of that we have spent a lot of time discussing this thorny issue with various people so as to formulate a consistent approach, although the nature of these things is that each is best analysed on a case by case basis.

  5. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on the launch of the new Design Museum website and the strange suggestion that the redesign should have been given to a British agency rather than Dutch studio Fabrique. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  6. Opinion-list

    In the wake of the launch of Printed Pages Autumn 2014, Editor James Cartwright wonders and worries about the secret of designing a great magazine cover and asks for any handy hints you might have. Do him a favour and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

  7. Main

    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

  8. Main

    This week Editor Liv Siddall addresses the world’s distraught reaction to the announcement that MSN Messenger will terminate after 15 years in operation, and wonders if we should get so nostalgic and wet-eyed over technology.

  9. Main

    This week editorial assistant Amy Lewin ponders the cultural impact of the potential England/Scotland split. As ever, feel free to leave comments below.

  10. Main

    We’ve been posting music-related art and design articles on It’s Nice That since the very beginning. In fact the first music video ever posted on It’s Nice That is this one by Koichiro Tsujikawa back in May 2007. Since then we’ve covered countless festival posters and identities, record sleeves, band logos, ad campaigns and tour photography amongst pretty much every other kind of music-related content you can think of, barring only reviewing music itself.

  11. Opinion-list

    This week editor James Cartwright wonders whether it was right to remove the Chapman Brothers’ controversial sculpture Piggyback from a Roman gallery or whether it’s an affront to creative freedoms. As ever your comments are welcome below…

  12. List

    Last week we were duped into running a project on the site that turned out to be a hoax. Here Rob Alderson explains what happened and why it’s left an unsavoury taste, while James Cartwright disagrees and congratulates the artist on a spoof well done. As ever you can leave your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  13. List

    Two weeks ago we featured DesignStudio’s Airbnb logo. One week ago copywriter Rob Mitchell of We All Need Words wrote an Opinion piece calling for an end to convoluted brand stories. His article was cheered by some people and incensed others; Sam Peskin and Liam Hamill of VentureThree want to have their say and defend brand strategy. Again you can add your views using the comment thread below…