Since When Was Free Speech Only For the Masses?

It’s funny, I tend to over think a lot of things. For real, I stay in bed late at night, going over things in my head; what I should have said in a situation, how I could have worded something a little better, what I did wrong, who I was mean to, who I was too kind to. The list goes on and on. But the one thing that I love is the fact that being a ‘nobody’ means that I can come on here, rant and rave about what I like, make grand sweeping statements and no one is none the wiser. I’m exercising my right to free speech, so I stick my tongue out to all of you who don’t like what I have to say. 🙂

But lately I have been astounded at what has been reported in the mainstream media in relation to social media. Ok I’ll be honest, I hate facebook now, I used to be a facebook whore of sorts, constantly updating my statuses and posting links to videos that I found insanely funny and waiting to see how many ‘likes’ I’d get. (Be honest, you do this too.) But the one thing that I didn’t like about facebook was that people would often read my posts, take them out of context and feel free to add their 5cents when they had no clue whatsoever about why I wrote a status; or worst of all, assume I was talking about them, when I was really taking a jab at the old man in front of me in the line for the subway who refused to get out of everyones way!

But I, as well as the rest of my facebook friends are nobodies, we can voice our opinions freely, we can say outrageously incorrect things, generalize our guts out and get away with just a simple LOL or LMAO to take the edge off; because as I mentioned before we all have a right to freedom of speech. I have no idea what amendment of the US constitution that phrase alludes to. (Neither do I care, I’m not American.) But the truth of the matter is, now, people are bound by companies, agreements, contracts, even their own celebrity to restrict what they say on social media. And I’d like to ask all these self appointed regulators, who died and made you Queen of the Speech!

What you say on social media sites is your business, and irrespective of whether your opinion maybe polarising, it is damn well better to be honest then hide behind a facade of graciousness, when underneath you are secretly hating on your brown brother, or your white sister. Let’s be honest, what social networking sites do is that they take the niceties away. Where there was a buffer, there is now a comment box, where there was an ‘excuse me’, there’s a like icon. But it is wrong for people to be restricted in what they say, tweet, blog or post about. Because it is their opinion. If you tell someone that they are wrong for what they are thinking, you are essentially trying to tell them what to think. That sounds to me like an attempt at social control.

Ok so there are people who write racist things, who can forgive the idiots who wrote those racial slurs at Pat Lam. But the thing is, we all know they are idiots, let the idiots be idiots. Like they say, no need to try and locate the town idiot, he’ll do something unmistakably idiotic eventually. But when celebrities, some of whom are insightful, have been wrongfully treated by their industry, try to speak out, theres a big hush hush cry that comes out from mainly business interests.

This is the biggest problem I have with the attempted censorship of social media. It is not an attempt at censorship in order to regulate bad behaviour, the only motivation behind it is to protect business interests. To not have a company/organisation associated with an individual, have their image tarnished. In the end it comes down to money. And this is nowhere more evident than in the sporting arena. To me, money is killing sport, the true essence of competition has now been moved off the playing field into the marketers offices, battles taking place in boardrooms over who controls revenue and what the athletes should and should not say.

Case in point, the recent article in the New Zealand herald where they quoted specific tweets from athletes who had received gifts from sponsors, some which included a new car. I don’t know about you, I would have tweeted my gratitude too. Apparently the New Zealand Olympic Committee are worried that it may infringe on sponsorship deals. And they warned the athletes to be careful what they tweet. hmmmmm.

And then there is the other side of the coin. Ever since his well publicized twitter attack on the IRB, Eliota Sapolu-Fuimaono has been followed closely by mainstream media on twitter. What I saw on my twitter timeline posted by Eli a hour earlier is a headline piece the next; complete with possible discipline scenarios to be handed out by the IRB. Outrageously speculative, and taken completely out of context for what means? (One doesn’t have to wonder or wander much to work that one out!)

And now employers are asking people to open up their social media sites so they can ascertain what sort of person you are! This is ridiculous! In the U.S. there are reports of people being asked during job interviews to hand over their facebook passwords so that an HR employee can take a snoop. Not only is this a gross invasion of privacy, it is also fruitless and pointless to make assumptions based on a person’s online persona. One which is often cultivated to display a certain kind of lifestyle that that individual probably doesn’t actually lead. Furthermore, this means that people will have to limit what they say on social networking sites about their employers.

Well excuse me, if you’re an employer be prepared to be loathed by your employees. It comes with the territory, you are in a position of authority, of course your employees will talk about you, back stab you, complain about you to others, but this doesn’t mean that they will ditch you. People need to vent, and that’s all most people will do, then go back to work happily knowing that they got it off their chest. Threatening people with disciplinary action over a facebook post is pushing it if you ask me. It’s the height of vanity, and a little bit overbearing to say the very least!

Enough is enough, we have chained ourselves to the dollar in almost every facet of our lives, must we chain our mouths to it too?

Free speech is for all, even for those people we idolize, because at the end of the day, celebrities are just ordinary people who were turned famous by other ordinary people. And ordinary people have a freedom to say what they like about other ordinary people.

And I wonder, if we stop looking at our so called ‘idols’ long enough, and actually listened to what some of them have to say, we might be pleasantly surprised at the validity in some of their opinions. There are others who will just prove the old adage of ‘they’re just a face’ but once in a while, a genuinely intelligent, well grounded celebrity will have something valid and profound to say. But we’ll all miss it, because we’ll be too busy worried about whether them even speaking violates our nation’s agreement with coca cola or pepsi or whoever owns the world now.

Free speech yall! Use it or lose it!



3 thoughts on “Since When Was Free Speech Only For the Masses?”

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