Faceless critics and social media

In his Sports Comment in the ODT Brent Edwards talks about “faceless critics and social media making life hell for rugby coaches”. He is specifically referring to disgraceful attacks on Blues coach Pat Lam on talkback radio and online.

You could read it on the websites. You could listen to it on the radio. All of it was anonymous.

Those who have been making his life a misery are doing so via the Internet or either as callers or texters to talkback radio.

What sort of people are they? Why do they bother? If they hold such a strong opinion why are they so coy about letting readers or listeners know who they are?

It’s a form of cowardice. How can you judge the merit, or otherwise, of someone’s opinion if you don’t know the person or their background?

Anonymity is a frequent debate on blogs. I don’t think it’s an issue if comment is reasonable, but anonymous personal attacks can easily be seen as cowardly.

Edwards takes it further:

The social media has changed our lives and, in most respects, not for the better.

That’s highly debatable – there are certainly downsides of social media, but there are many benefits as well. It’s just another reflection of wider society.

But the personal and rascist abuse directed at Lam, and his family and players, has nothing to do with rugby and everything to do with people sniping away under cover of anonymity.

It’s an issue which should concern all New Zealanders. It’s time for the faceless critics to shut up or be held to account.

They won’t shut up, there will always be snipers and abusers in society. But there are things we can do to balance the abuse.

This isn’t about anonymity, even though it does aid some cretins.

What is important is for the majority of decent people commenting online to stand up against it. Anonymous people can playb as much a part in this as well as identifable people.

Speak up against abuse, personal attacks and online cowardice and it will be less of a problem.

It’s up to all of us who use the Internet.

And if we do this and set a better example maybe it will rub out some of the radio abuse as well.

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