Today I am pleased to feature a guest post from Rebecca Bradley, whose latest novel, The Twisted Web was published on 17th September. The Twisted Web is the fourth book in Rebecca’s DI Hannah Robbins series and it is one that caught my attention both due to its intriguing premise, and striking cover art (I’m a Nottingham girl!)
The Twisted Web features a social media shaming which is something that is ever present in modern society with our devotion to social media platforms which whilst entertaining and informative can also have an unpleasant side. And it is this darker side to online presence that Rebecca explores in her guest post…
Online Public Shaming
If you’re reading this then you are an internet user. You are comfortable moving around a web browser and likely a social media site. And if so, you’ll have also probably seen the furore that explodes when social media interprets a wrong-doing.
The problem is, the mass body of social media doesn’t stop to think of whether they are right or wrong, or what the consequences of their actions are, they just attack and demand action. This is because they are not a seething mass working as one, but they are individual people who are simply sitting behind their computer screens or holding a phone in their hands and who are mostly just jumping on a bandwagon. They think they are one voice, one person, that their single message doesn’t matter, and they are just one person, but each single individual tweet accumulates until there is a huge and deafening roar.
My latest crime novel, The Twisted Web was inspired by the journalist, Jon Ronson’s book, So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, which I think was prompted by a woman whose life was blown up by an ill-thought out tweet she sent before she got on a plane. She was in the air for hours and when she landed her life as she knew it, was over. Justine Sacco was a victim of online public shaming. They called for her to be dismissed from her job and she was. There is power when everyone groups together this way and while it can be a positive if against a large corporation with dodgy practices, when it is targeted at an individual who is like you or me, it must be utterly terrifying.
There has been a couple of recent examples of this such behaviour. One such example is the singer and presenter, Coleen Nolan incident. In January 2017 she participated in and won the UK version of Big Brother. One of her fellow contestants was Kim Woodburn, and if you watched it you will know there was a fair amount of friction in the house and the word bullying was bandied around. This didn’t stop Coleen from winning. Because with Big Brother we get to see all sides of the incident and people who voted had a view.
Roll forward eighteen months and Kim and Coleen are still not friends. It was apparently a very real falling out. So a few weeks ago the Loose Women producers where Coleen is a panellist, invited Kim onto the show to try to bury the hatchet.
What happened was far from hatchet burying. A row erupted on the show as Kim continued to claim she was bullied and got upset on the programme. Coleen didn’t say a great deal to start with and then said there was no real talking to Kim as she wouldn’t listen. Kim got up and walked off. Very upset.
This could have been the end of it. Admittedly it was a very upsetting ending for all concerned, but it could very easily have been the last anyone heard of it. But… social media got involved.
Social media decided the Coleen Nolan was a bully and that she did not deserve to keep her job on Loose Women. A petition was started to get her out of her role and she was hounded and vilified on Twitter. This resulted in Coleen leaving the show, at least temporarily, (a decision of her making, but prompted by the backlash) and putting out a statement saying that she did not ask Kim to go on the show nor to be reunited with her. It was done by the Loose Women team. She stated she stayed as calm as possible while being insulted live on air which was upsetting.
And this is the impact that social media has on a person’s life. They make a decision and they strike.
I watched the interview and I do not think Coleen targeted Kim at all. It kind of just spiralled, in part, because Kim would not calm down long enough to listen to what other people had to say or to engage in a making of the peace.
So why do other people get to have a say, to be able to call for Coleen to lose her job?
This is a shocking development in the world of social media and I for one would hate to be at the sharp end of it. It has to be a really scary place to be. Lonely and isolating and you feel the wrath of what must feel like the entire nation, when in truth, it’s just a small part of the nation. Not everyone uses social media and not everyone agrees with what these people say. But because they band together their voice is loud and it is persistent. Maybe you’ve even sent a tweet out expressing a view but not considered that there is a very real person at the other end of it. It is so easy to join in when we see anger online. I try not to do it, but I’m sure I have been involved at some point in my past. Reading John Ronson’s book woke me up to what happens at the other end though.
The Twisted Web explores what happens when a life is destroyed in this way and just what impact social media can have.
Check out The Twisted Web and step into the game.
The Twisted Web
A social media shaming. A killer with a message. A deadly combination.
When the body of a man is left in the city centre set up as a realistic police crime scene, DI Hannah Robbins is forced to enter a world that can break a person, a case and a reputation.
Social media platforms light up and Hannah is pitted against the raging online monster and a killer who has already lost everything.
Can she catch the killer and put him behind bars or will she become part of his sadistic game?
Thank you to Rebecca for joining me on my blog, if you would like to discover more about The Twisted Web or Rebecca’s previous works you can find out more on the links below!