Meet the latest victim of our dumb digital culture
Anyone searching for evidence that the world is becoming less pleasant and more stupid should look no further than some of the commentary around AFL footballer Kurt Tippett’s defection from the Adelaide Crows to the Sydney Swans.
Even as a Crows supporter, and one who believes Tippett has treated our club and his teammates quite poorly, I would nevertheless argue that the debate around his departure is a profoundly depressing case study in the modern phenomenon of total ignorance combined with unchecked aggression.
It is social media, of course, which provides the vehicle of choice for all this stupidity. As always, anonymity plays a key role in the nature of the vilification. As with the Charlotte Dawson affair, where the host of Australia’s Next Top Model suffered a depressive episode after a gang of anonymous heroes goaded her over Twitter with the charming slogan “gohangyourself”, Tippett has found himself on the receiving end of death threats for daring to change AFL clubs.
Footy aside, much of the hatred seems to stem from the fact that Tippett’s actions go to the psychological epicentre of South Australian insecurity, in that Tippett appears to have decided that Adelaide isn’t a very exciting place to live.
Whatever the motivation, Tippett is copping it big time. Think of the worst swear words you know and type them into Twitter alongside Tippett’s name and you’ll hit the jackpot. The worst comment came from some halfwit (with a made-up name) who tweeted direct to Tippett’s account, @KurtTippett4, saying “I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you.’‘
That tweet was the subject of a matter-of-fact news article by News Limited football writer Michelangelo Rucci. When Rucci filed his report the person who had written the death threat wrote the following tweet:
“lol at Rucci’s article about death threats to @KurtTippett4 my tweet is a quote from the movie Taken which was tongue & cheek #cantbeserious”
This tweet is something of a work of genius. It ticks every box in reflecting the culture we now inhabit, in that it is inane, spectacularly illiterate, and massively rude, all in the space of less than 140 characters. It not only contains the obligatory and air-headed “laugh out loud” acronym, but it confirms the author is such a slack-jawed moron that he’ll laugh off a death threat as being tongue “and” cheek – yep, that’s an “and” there – all because he got the line from some Hollywood film.
The author of the tweet is not Robinson Crusoe when it comes to this kind of conduct. Wests Tigers league star Robbie Farah had an unfortunate moment early last month, when having signed on to support the noble anti-trolling campaign launched by The Daily Telegraph, it emerged that he’d suggested previously on Twitter that someone should give Julia Gillard a noose for her birthday.
The Alan Jones affair has quickly become an ideological battle, with the archly conservative Jones being lined up his salivating leftwing detractors. As far as I am concerned it is much less a question of ideology than simply a case of being incredibly bloody rude. It suits Jones and his supporters to breeze over the content of what he said about a woman’s recently dead father, regardless of who that woman is, and turn the discussion into a debate about censorship or advertising boycotts or freedom of speech. At the same time, Jones’ utter lack of class has itself provided the springboard for equally vile commentary in his direction, with many people either tweeting or retweeting that with any luck Jones’ cancer will return and he’ll die soon anyway.
What the world needs is a really large bucket of ice-cold water which can be chucked over all these people. They desperately need to get a life, and while they’re at it, they also need to get some basic instructions in manners.
All the hipsters who think social media has made the world a more social place should stand back and more judiciously weigh the merit of its overall content. For all the pleasant people on twitter or all the folks sharing pictures on Facebook there is a sizeable army of maladjusted and anonymous weirdos who are telling people to go and kill themselves or hacking the tribute pages of kids who have died in P-plate car accidents. Frankly if not for the fact that I use twitter to push content around the web and crack the odd silly gag I would shut my account tomorrow and immediately enjoy a more sensible and sedate life.
Those who think that these comments should be without consequence, or shielded by some reckless adhesion to a blanket concept of freedom of speech, are deluded. Freedom of speech should never extend to the kind of abuse Tippett has copped.
Last Friday the AFL Players’ Association referred the offending tweets to the Victoria Police. Good on them for doing so. I hope the person who wrote that tweet is arrested. As Tippett’s manager Peter Blucher said, the threats were despicable and not remotely funny.
“How would you feel if it was your son?” Blucher said, “This person should be made an example of so this sort of stuff doesn’t happen again.”
It would certainly wipe the LOL off their silly face. It would also hopefully set a precedent here for others who use so-called “social” media as their preferred avenue for the most anti-social conduct imaginable.
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