The internet can be a dark, strange place sometimes. Filled with things like a Skrillex, Ed Sheeran, pointless commentary on The Brits, Unicorn horns for cats, Can’t Not Tweet This, Eel Slap and The Daily Mail. Some days it seems as though the level of stupid online reaches heights, unlike anything previously seen. Sent to test our resolve, these days are filled with one ridiculous post, comment, and image after another. Each more infantile, ill thought out and preposterous than the last. Today was one of those days. What sets today apart is that all of the stupid has come from corporate or public agencies. Really.
I started 2017 with a promise to never read the comments and for the most part, I’ve managed to stick to it. Occasionally I find myself wandering into a silly stream of nonsense, shake my head and back out of the room quietly. Some days I lose. Somedays I get dragged in, sometimes I find it hard to not to. I’m going to be brutally honest, I lost today and ended up on a bit of a crusade with Shark Island Brewing in Australia.
More of that later.
The most recent Twitter hack suggests that we all need to be careful about how we manage our social media pages, who is watching them, how long they watch them for and how we engage with people when things go wrong. What we should learn is that as the internet doesn’t close neither do your social pages.
Today’s Twitter hack was closely followed by calls for Students in Belfast to be monitored by their slumlords to make sure that they behave on St Patricks Day. You know, regardless of how many of them these slumlords can squeeze into one two up two down and how little living space these hovels are left with. That was followed by the fact that I spotted that White House is spelled incorrectly on the White House site. Not that there is anything new there. Then came the news that the Police in Newry were suggesting that young women try not to get raped over St Patricks Day weekend. That particular gem was followed by the most shocking post of the day in the form of the Shark Island Brewing Company in Australia trying to sell beer using images of people fleeing the famine in Ireland. I wish I were joking.
Here’s a thing I’ve been saying for some years. Every organisation, every company, collection of people, everyone with access to the internet and the opportunity to sell something, promote something or write articles, opinion pieces or policy needs a Bob.
We had an imaginary Bob in a place I worked in. Bob sat in the corner and acted as a kind of moral compass, a muse, and a guide, only speaking when we verged toward the ridiculous end of the scale. If someone thought that a policy to ensure vegans were to eat in the yard our Bob would raise his hand and put a stop to the nonsense. A suggestion that whiskey was given to under fours to keep them quiet was vetoed, again, by your friendly Bob. Any suggestion that we print contracts on Page 3 of The Shite was stopped. Our Bob put his hand up and said, hold on lads, that’ll never work.
A beer using the Irish Famine as a unique selling point would never have made it past Bob. Bob would have laughed in the face of such an absurd and offensive idea. Our friends at the Shark Island Brewing company in Australia clearly don’t have a Bob. Rape is a horrific crime, but the reality is that you don’t go out of an evening making sure you don’t get raped, you go out of an evening with a clear idea that you don’t rape anyone. Any suggestion to the contrary would have had our Bob up in arms. It’s preposterous.
Grown adults, in a room over overpriced water, together, deciding on what to tell the outside world managed to come up with don’t get raped and Famine Beer.Trained people, people in charge of tools that let them talk to the outside world. People who are actually allowed to go outside, into the world. They came up with this much stupid in one day. All because someone came up with an idea and everyone else so so lost in how cool, with it and hip it was that they didn’t manage to see how batshit crazy it was. Man.
Here’s a suggestion. If, before you post something online that gives you any pause for thought, call your Mother. If your Mother isn’t available, call an Aunt, call your Sister, run it by someone with a soul for Christ sake. Find some money to hire a Bob.
Everybody needs a Bob.
Failing all that just stop. Take a breath. Get your head around the idea of what might happen if when you post something so facile, so stupid, and so offensive that it manages to whip thousands of people across the globe into action. Think about being forced to delete posts, think about your ratings on Facebook plummeting by the hour, think about deciding that the only thing you can do to stem the tide is to delete your Twitter account.
Think about that over one stupid idea.