Friday, October 31, 2014

Freaky Halloween?

Love it or loathe it, Halloween is here.   The night when children go from door to door in the neighbour dressed up in costumes of witches, wizards, ghosts, skeletons, mummies etc. 

When I was a child it was a pretty low key celebration but nevertheless, one I enjoyed.  We bobbed apples and made our own costumes, walking from door to door where people either gave you sweets and/or money or turned you away without incident.  These were people you tended to know and sometimes they'd invite you inside their homes and ask you to sing a song, or something like that.

It was great fun.  I remember once my friend's father dressed in a white sheet as a ghost and scared the living daylights out of us and we loved it.

Nowadays though, Halloween seems so commercialised.  Shops are full of outfits and special sweets and decorations for the occasion.  Children now say, 'Trick or Treat', something they never said in the sixties and seventies.  The idea being if the home owner doesn't give a treat to the caller then they'll get a trick played on them.  This is often something like their doorstep/windows being pelted with eggs or some other 'trick'.

As well as this being totally antisocial it's also scary for the elderly and vulnerable.
I notice too that these days children I don't even know knock my door and ask for money or sweets, to date they've been well behaved and I always give them something, but why do their parents allow them to knock on the doors of strangers?  Some of the children look very young.  I've even seen children as young as two or three years old dressed up alone standing outside my door costumed up, holding a little bag or bowl for money or sweets.  When I've looked up and down the street, I've noticed a parent stood in the shadows waiting for them.  I don't know but it doesn't feel right to me.

I wish Halloween was as it was in the old days, more innocent with children making their own fun and only calling on the doors of people they know.  It's become like a begging bonanza egged on by the parents these days [pardon the pun!].

It's my guess that many people will pretend to be out tonight, with lights turned off and TV turned down, or will actually go out to avoid it.  Although Halloween is intended to be scary with the thoughts of ghosts and ghouls, it shouldn't mean the elderly or vulnerable have to hide away in their own homes to avoid trick or treaters, who might do something nasty or demand money or sweets from them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trolling on Social Media Networks

When I was child I thought a troll was an ugly little figure who lived under a bridge waiting to threaten The Three Billy Goats Gruff as in the fairy tale of the same name.

Nowadays though, there's a very different kind of troll who waits online to goad people.  We've seen it this week once again when Judy Finnegan made some comments regarding rape on the ITV show, Loose Women.  Whether people agree or disagree with Judy's comments [after which she apologised for], it does not give people licence to verbally abuse Judy and her daughter, Chloe Madeley, via Twitter, Facebook or any other media network for that matter.

Yesterday, there was an article published in the newspapers where Richard Madeley, Judy's husband and Chloe's father, hit back at the trolls threatening Chloe with rape.  He promised they would be tracked down and the inference was that prosecution lay ahead:

I've seen evidence of trolls myself on Facebook.  This was partly to do with my decision to leave that particular social media network.  It was almost as though there were people there waiting to find a chink in a discussion to jump in and upset others.

I set up a local group on Facebook which was popular and had almost 1500 members.  It was well controlled with administrators to monitor things if they got out of hand.  But one day someone I didn't know from my home town joined, he claimed to be writing a novel and an editor [which I have found evidence for.]  Yet, that person tried his best in one discussion to upset as many people as possible with his comments.  I think he viewed himself as a 'Keyboard Warrior'.  He was picking on the wrong group as our group was full of fun and light hearted.  For some reason, most of his comments were aimed at me.  He asked to see evidence I was published.  I showed him links to the books I'd had published. After that he kept on and on. 

I think looking back on it, he might have been jealous to see I've had a few books published, whereas he'd been working on the same novel for years and was unpublished.

Finally, an admin decision was made to remove him from the group, not just because he was verbally attacking me, but upsetting others. 

I later Googled his name and saw evidence at various writing forums where he was winding other people up too.

It makes you wonder where these people get the time to deliberately look for people to wind up.  Are their lives so boring and pathetic that they have to goad others?

It's almost as though the trolls are too cowardly to say these dreadful things in real life so hide behind their computer screens where they probably think they sound brave but in reality they're the opposite.  A lot of people don't even realise there is a Malicious Communication Act which can end up with the person who is harassing others ending up in prison:

Unlike a verbal harassment where it might only be someone's word against the accused [if there are no witnesses], whatever is written in an email or on a Twitter/Facebook account is there for all to see, and even if deleted can be retrieved.

Bad news for trolls but good news for your average Billy Goat Gruff!