Saturday, 10 November 2012

Its my Blog & I Can Say What I Want To ... Can't I ??

There have been a few things that I have fancied writing about recently ... from Donald Trump's challenge to President Obama to a car crash that happened near where I live. But I haven't written about them and the reason is quite simple. I have quite strong views on these things and decided that to vent my spleen and then publish would, perhaps, not be the wisest move.

After all, it is one thing to listen to the radio and and then stand there disagreeing with the presenter, or to have a discussion around the dinner table with friends. It is quite another to put one's opinions in print and publish them for all the world to see.

This week in the U.K  we have seen how damaging internet chatter can be - a man being accused online of a crime and then it turns out he is completely innocent.

I have been very tempted in the past week to fire off a quick tweet in response to an event or another person's blog or tweet, but I have held fire. I am certainly not going to risk tweeting or blogging about a specific person, naming names, if that tweet or post is going to put me in hot water legally. Its easy to consider oneself immune from the big wide world of litigation as we sit on a sofa tweeting or at at the kitchen table blogging while the tea cooks. After all, I'm not a big important journalist am I? Nobody will be that bothered by what I say ...

But that is not the point is it? It doesn't matter who you are, how big or small in the world of the internet. If you write something that is defamatory, rude, untrue, aggressive, libellous ... then there is the chance that you are going to get into big trouble. It won't help your cause if you actually send a tweet to the person you are being rude about either ... I saw a few tweets this week addressed to a particular celebrity which were aimed to insult. Hello??!! Are you mad? Its like putting a big flag up that says "Hello! My name is blah and I am libelling you to potential millions! Come and sue me!!"

Maybe I am stating the obvious here, but to many people it doesn't appear to be obvious as they continue to write things that could be considered offensive and for which they certainly have no evidence.

There are just some things that you have to be careful about. Naming people and making allegations is just asking for trouble. Having strong opinions is fine, but you still have to be careful how you phrase them. I would always hope to write in the same way I would speak to another person face to face. Of course, not everybody is going to agree with everything you say, but to put yourself in a position where someone could actually report you, sue you, is just mad.

So, although I may have had some very forthright opinions this week and although I may have been tempted to write some spirited posts ... they are staying in my head. Call me a coward or call me Mrs Sensible ... I don't mind, but I think these days we all need to think for that extra second before we press the button to 'publish'.


White Space said...

I agree. Some dreadful people write all sorts of horrible things they would never say to the person's face and they hide behind their 'anonymity' (ever heard of an IP address you idiots?)

However, I do feel that unless it's really nasty stuff then you should be able to say what you like - which is why I moved my blog if you recall.

Saying that, I also have a completely secret blog that I use to fire off really personal thoughts that I wouldn't dare tell anyone except close friends (and even then....) I use the other blog like an electronic diary where I can get out my fears, hopes, and really private close-to-the-bone concerns. I wrote a lot about the boyfriend on there for example, and looking back I can see we were having probs from waaaay before I thought.

Anyway - yes, (rambling now!) best to pause before you hit publish, but great to have a safe place to air private worries and thoughts.

Pauline said...

I'd call you Mrs Sensible and think it's a shame there aren't a few more around with your ability to think about the consequences of their actions.

Helloitsgemma said...

So true. Things can be interpreted very differently without body language and facial expression.
It's easy to hide behind a computer and say things you wouldnt in person.

Nicki said...

Although I never want to bash a specific person on my blog or be outright cruel, I do have a nasty mouth and some thoughts and opinions unbecoming of a woman. I constantly worry that the things I say on my blog will ruin my chances at a good career. I know future employers will Google me and read my blog and my Facebook page. But....I also want to exercise my freedom of speech and not be true to myself in some regards. It is definitely a fine line that I have definitely crossed. Again...not outright rude (unless I am really mad) but not very flattering either. Eh. I am what I am.

Nicki said...

Oops...I meant I am not being true to myself if I censor myself.

Bacchus said...

What a great post. I always allow myself a "cooling off" period before answering someone or defending myself online. Generally if I wouldn't say it to their face, then I won't post it online, even though my bog is anonymous.

Eve said...

Excellent post Sarah! I agree with you about not saying anything insulting or outright mean about another person, but I think it's okay to vent your feelings about a politician's policys, or an actor's performance, long as what you have to say is a well thought out and expressed opinion, and not just name calling...sometimes though, people go off half-cocked about something they know nothing about, or they just say nasty things for the sake of being nasty.
I've read a few blogs that call President O'Bama racist names,and accuse him of everything from election fraud to having sex with wild animals.. and to me that kind of thing just exposes the blogger as a deeply offensive being who I would rather have nothing to do with.
Hope things are going good in your world!

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thanks for your comments.I do think that we should be able to write opinion pieces, but there is a line we shouldn't cross. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but when it comes to being offensive or to naming names in an aggressive way or to making an allegation we need to be very careful.
I read a piece the other day that labelled a person a 'miserable bitch'.I don't think there is any call to write like that - it just negates the good points you have to make.
Anyway - I'm glad you liked my post!!

Caz said...

Here, here. Great minds - I've just done a post about the perils of faceless communication! It seems we're on the same page. xx

White Space said...

Also, if you want to avoid trolls - never read the comments section on the Guardian website. They are a miserable, mean-spirited, hard to please bunch! I always vow not to read down and I always do - and I always regret it.