I warn in advance that this might be considered a somewhat controversial post, I'd like to apologise in advance if it offends anyone.
I sometimes think that social media is a bit of a curse. If you follow me on Twitter, then you'll know that I'm on it regularly, tweeting away random nonsense, possibly over-sharing and a bit of whining that only a sleep-deprived mother of a young baby can achieve. You might also know that I loathe Facebook. My newsfeed was either constant moaning, lists of trivial information like their day's to-dos and stupid captioned pictures. I'm not into all that, and when I'd try to talk about what I consider to be genuine topics, about issues that are important to me such as racism and human rights, I was set upon and argued with. This is something I don't really encounter on Twitter though I'm not sure if it's to do with the kind of people that use the platform...or the kind of people I befriend and added to my Facebook.
Recently I've thought more and more that actually, social media can turn some small-scale issues into massive witch hunts, scandals and full-blown dramas. Why? Why do we do it? It doesn't make anyone happy, so why? There is so much in the world going on...and people are freaking out at supermarkets and hurling abuse at take-away providers. We are all aware that the people that have to answer these tweets and messages are people too, right? That whoever authorised or made the mistake, was a person, with feelings and thoughts and not, in fact, a robot incapable of ever making a mistake, ever.
I think I reached my limit around the time of ASDA's mental patient fiasco. As someone who has suffered from paranoia, anxiety and depression (and that's to name just the fun stuff), I guess you could consider me to have mental-health 'issues' (call it denial, but I consider myself incredibly lucky that that's all I have after a short-lived career in social care showed me exactly how I could've ended up). So I'm 'mental', okay...but like most of us 'nutters' I'm actually a reasonably-well-functioning member of society who also happens to like horror films. What's the connection? Well, in the horror-genre, patients of mental-health establishments are often portrayed as dangerous and terrifying (they're usually ghosts though, long dead and super crazy), which is what a certain Halloween costume was based upon. To be upset by this I would also have to be upset with the notion that people think all mother's who've suffered the loss of a child are crazed murderers (Friday the 13th), that a jealous child can become a serial killer (Halloween) or that any house that's seen a death is haunted (just about every ghost film, ever). If we're going to start flying off the handle on something such as Halloween costumes, then surely we should extend it to the whole horror business, correct? And what about fiction in general? Where were the local authority when Harry Potter was living in the cupboard under the stairs? Where were the benefit fraud officers whilst Grandpa Joe laid in to bed twenty years? He clearly was well enough to leap out of bed, dance to a jaunty tune around the room before toddling off to a certain Chocolate factory...
Do I sound crazy yet? Am I reading too much into this? I know you're sat there thinking that mental health has a stigma that wizardry and Michael Myers does not, and you'd be right. I'm not saying that the supermarkets in question were right, they weren't, and I'm not supporting what was done but it was a mistake. The people who run the website, the twitter and Facebook accounts...they're all people. People make mistakes. Yes, a large company is faceless, but the people on the front line are not. They are people that get up, feed their children and then go to work, just like you and me. They are people who have to work for their money and aside from making a very small-scale error (blown up by a very large network) have never caused anyone any harm. I work in retail, I've dealt with shouting, screaming, rude and insulting customers. It's not nice. Why can't people just be nice when standing up for what they believe in? Nastiness isn't needed, ever. When did we all become so sensitive? Shouldn't we all just man up?
If people put as much effort into the real problems in the world as they did the Halloween costume scandal, think of what we could achieve! I saw more about that 'incident' (and I'm still seeing it mentioned now) than I ever have about the poor migrant workers who lose their lives trying to get away from a nightmare existence. More than human rights atrocities. Not. Cool.
What do YOU think?
Rant over (apologies).
P.S. I noticed it seems to be acceptable to dress as a zombie nurse/headless horseman/witch. I don't see any medical professionals or wicans taking to Twitter in outrage, not to mention all the recent uproar in regards to decapitation. Personally I feel that the outrage over ASDA and Tesco did nothing to educate the ignorant on mental health.
Labels: mental health, rant, social media