Whilst I believe strongly in freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, I think that social media has forgotten an old adage; if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Oh, I can bitch with the best of them. Those who know me (those who have drunk with me) know that much of my humour is based squarely upon taking the piss. I am far from all sweetness and light. But I want to change. I want to be kind.
I try to be kind as much as I can. When I see a way to be kind, to improve someone’s day, make someone smile, maybe even to make someone glad that I am around, I’ll choose that path. They say that nice guys finish last but I’m confident that a hustler can be nice too. That’s me, doing the hustle and holding the door for you.
Last week, Jack Monroe won a major victory over unkindness. Winning £24k in damages against Katie Hopkins who, after saying many unkind things about numerous people in her various writings and on Twitter, met her match. Whether or not the things that Hopkins writes are true or not (the court decided the latter), they are intended to provoke and to upset under the guise of sharing an opinion or ‘saying what everyone is thinking.’
What if we all agreed to keep these opinions to ourselves? Can we even fathom this now that the genie is out of the bottle? If we refrain from making unkind comments about celebrities, can I still call Donald Trump a moron? He checks Twitter as much as anyone else. He clearly has nothing better to do. Moron.
What this is coming down to is the true / fair / necessary conundrum; this is something that my Mother taught me. Before saying or doing anything, ask yourself:
Is this true?
Is this kind?
Is this necessary?
Take the example of calling Trump a moron; is it true? Sadly, I think it is. Is it kind? Ok, not really. Is it necessary? I believe so.
Katie Hopkins tweeted that Jack Monroe supported the desecration of a war memorial; this was untrue and unkind but necessary. This tweet was necessary to provoke a response and gather interest and exposure, all those things that are necessary for Katie Hopkins to pay her mortgage. An entire career built upon being controversial and just plain mean.
Jack Monroe was brave enough to stand up to this and fight. It must have felt like a lonely battle but it is one from which we all benefit. Maybe, just maybe, people will think before they speak, before they tweet.
And for all of this, I would like to bake a cake for Jack Monroe. Hopefully, it will taste as good as victory over the forces of evil.
Special thanks to Martyn Wheatley for these exclusive photographs.