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Gina Lyons

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My Friends Are Racists

Posted: 10/01/2014 15:33

Recently, I have become sadder and sadder whilst browsing along my Facebook timeline. I have read angry status after angry status about anything from the girl getting a boob job on the NHS, immigrants, MPs' expenses to Lee Ryan in Celebrity Big Brother. I love an opinion and good old fashioned debate, it's why I blog, but I don't love reading the anger and vile language spat coming from people I know on Facebook and Twitter. The hatred people have is heartbreaking.

When Theo Walcott recently injured himself, ruining his chances to go to the World Cup this year, I actually read the most disgusting statuses from people I know who are Tottenham Hotspur supporters (too bad to share with you here.) When some girl uploaded a YouTube video of her rapping (albeit quite badly), I saw people sharing it, angry that a girl who was white and sounding, (as they put it) "black."

Recently, I've been shocked to the core at how people I know have spoken about a 29-year-old father from Tottenham who was killed last year. Whether you agree the police acted lawfully or unlawfully is one thing, but where is the compassion for a young man who has lost his life? Where is the compassion for his parents, family and friends? Does him, supposedly being a drug dealer mean we can no longer appreciate his lost life?

Now, I could, as someone on Twitter pointed out, 'delete' these people from my Facebook. But these are the people I often grew up with, care about, deleting them might stop being me upset when I log online, but it doesn't delete the situation.

I'm from a small town called Northampton, famous for Alan Carr and a woman called 50p Lil. (Google her, she's quite the character, although a sad one.) I went to a fairly mixed school in terms of colour, but like any small town, the people who live there can sometimes be small minded, judgemental. People don't mean any genuine harm, on anyone I would have to believe, but like mine, many working class families read The Sun newspaper and early on adopt a belief that all Muslims bomb people, that the country is overran with immigrants and that people on benefits are lazy *****.

Worst still, they don't find out facts and stats to share their opinions, but merely spout anger.

Online.

Which is then followed by 57 'likes'.

It's OK to believe these things. It's even OK to share these things, as we are a country of free speech, but that law doesn't defend libel, slander and obscenity.

It's just sad to see the people I care about and shared a childhood with, are so angry. There is venom in their words, conviction in their anger, and there is no compassion to anyone living in a situation different to their own. We are judging our country on what it's like in tabloid newspapers and Channel 4 documentaries.

I recently shared an article Owen Jones wrote for the Independent on Facebook. Owen addressed the media's responsibility in shows like Benefits Street and the reaction it causes. He also, rightly so, pointed out some statistics that the 'angry class' seem so confused on. He pointed out for instance that only 3% of the UK's security payments go to the unemployed, not the whopping 41% people think.

Now, I can't be one to preach. I don't have the education or articulation to inform people what they should know better, but what I can suggest is that we find empathy and understanding in people different from ourselves. That we question what we are learning and who is the source, and try to find the humanity in what you share online. In short, just be kind.

Stop judging or labeling people by their colour, religion, class or lifestyle. Stop before you write that vile update and share that anger with hundreds of people. Think about how your words affect other people's opinions.

Be careful, be thoughtful.

Because, let's all be honest here, by the looks of it, it is not each other we should all be angry with at all.

 

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