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Friday, 6 December 2013

Tom Daley's an Inspiration, Nelson Mandela was a Great Man and Other Social Media Bandwagons

Although my blog posts are normally packed to the gills with whimsy, nonsense and the kind of halfhearted efforts that come with Friday afternoon fatigue, today I'm taking a different tack: a good old fashioned rant. 

This may be an unexpected symptom of my mid-week illness, but I'm thoroughly peeved with the social media reaction to two of this week's biggest news stories: the hardly revelatory news that Tom Daley might not just like girls and the death of Nelson Mandela, which in and of itself is hardly revelatory as we all expected it a few months back.

Let me get things straight: I have no qualms with the fact that the press has covered these events, they are obviously both newsworthy. The first in that Daley's "coming out" was made public via YouTube and he's an attractive and popular athlete, the second because, well, it's Nelson Mandela. 

No, my chagrin has been piqued by the inevitable jumping-on-the-bandwagoning (just go with it) that everyone with a keyboard and a Twitter profile seems entitled to. And they are entitled to it, but it really annoys me when they're clearly adding nothing to the conversation. 

Take this piece I saw on LinkedIn earlier today:

Really? Was Nelson Mandela a great man? I haven't heard that all throughout my life and certainly not in all the newspapers both print and digital in articles better written and with far greater insight (which have no doubt been awaiting publication for some months now). 

Another thing that got on my tits (not enough to screen capture and thus name and shame to my four readers) was one of my Facebook friends who decided to post something about Steve Biko, as if to suggest a non-conformity with the rest of the social media drones and a deeper understanding of the South African struggle against apartheid. 

"A fellow hero of Mandela who was murdered by the South African government, fighting for basic human rights... he shall never be forgotten!"

She's right of course, Mandela's such a mainstream choice for favourite anti-apartheid figure. Steve Biko's far more niche, and Denzel Washington absolutely killed it playing him in that film they made us watch for General Studies in sixth form. I hear Idris Elba's Mandela's pretty average (although an Oscar is now in the bag).

Anyway, I forgot about Tom Daley being gay, or bi or whatever, which elicited far more congratulations than was necessary. I get he's a figurehead and role model, so this will hopefully do good things for battling homophobia in the schoolyard, but come on, he's not that courageous. It's 2013, I think we're all under the impression that the LGBT community's alright and probably not some kind of punishment from God. 

Think I've lost track of my rant somewhere along the line (aforementioned Friday fatigue), but you get the gist: we all have an opinion, but if it's exactly the same as the rest of the world's maybe we should just not blanket social media with it. Or something.