Twitter for (racist) Dummies
When Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch during Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final, many people audibly gasped.
Some spoke words of concern, while others simply held their breath.
Liam Stacey - a 21-year-old Welsh biology student - saw it as the perfect opportunity to alienate the entire world by openly mocking the unconscious player and posting a string of racist and sexist comments in response to criticism from other Twitter users. Obviously, the lad isn’t the first to haphazardly press a bunch of keyboard keys in a decidedly racist order. But being the most most recent to do so probably makes him more idiotic, in many ways.
By now, people should have figured out this whole “not destroying your career and poisoning your name via Twitter” thing. The rules, you see, are fairly simple.
Some, like “don’t defend Chris Brown”, are obvious. Others - such as “seriously, don’t defend Chris Brown” – shouldn’t even need to be spoken aloud at this point.
It’s really not that difficult. But if you, like Mr Stacey, are at all confused about these simple rules, pick up a crayon and jot this next one down: Don’t joke about natural disasters or severely injured sports stars in the immediate aftermath of said disaster or injury.
“But,” you’ll say as your eyes shoot laser-like defiance at your anonymous critics, “Ricky Gervais and Louis CK say obscene things and get away with it - why should I be any different?”. But you are not “edgy”, or “brave” or “wickedly controversial” or any other adjectives that may appear within the DVD blurb of a Louis CK performance.
You, person who types inappropriate things at inappropriate times, are a random yahoo on Twitter cracking funnies about mass graves and universal heartache. You probably think it’s a biting bit of “satire”. In reality, the sentence you have just uttered sits somewhere above the sound of a potato falling off a table and slightly below the squelch of an idiot plunging their finger into a birthday cake.
At this point, you’re probably feeling the urge to rant about “the context” of the remark - which is, of course, that hundreds of innocent people died horribly violent deaths, providing you with the inspiration needed to craft your mercilessly-insensitive school-level pun. You may genuinely believe that when you said: “Kony is da dude and clubbing baby seals is cool” - you were actually commenting on the nature of US involvement in African conflicts and something else that was really smart about sustainability and baby seals.
Others, however, might be difficult to convince.
And this next bit is especially important. If you should ever tweet something off-colour, don’t – as Liam Stacey did - say your account was hacked. Just don’t do it. Even if you have grainy video footage of your tabby furiously pistol-whipping you into submission, handcuffing you to a chair and using your laptop to type and post a 5,000-word essay titled: “Why racism is better than sunny days, rainbow ice-cream and tiny puppies” – don’t say your account was hacked.
Unless you’ve spent the past five days leading up to your racially-charged joke tweeting: “Random people in trench coats on the street still can’t believe my password is ‘password’ LOL” - no one’s going to believe you. The Illuminati did not take time out of their ancient secret-keeping and Da Vinci-coding to take control of your Tumblr account and write an all-caps racist tirade in bright-red comic sans in an effort to discredit you among your 13 followers.
Speech may be free, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. Sometimes, when a man falls on the pitch, it’s better to hold your breath.
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