https://www.warrington.gov.uk/news/christmas-time-square

Time to spring clean the keyboard warriors!

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SPRING is in the air, the roadmap out of lockdown is underway and the vaccine programme is being rolled out so hopefully, the light is shining brightly at the end of what has been a very long dark tunnel.

We will have all been impacted in some way during what has been a terrible year for many but some worse than others, especially those who have lost loved ones, are still suffering the ill-effects of long COVID and those who have lost their livelihoods.
Spending a lot of time on social media, which is a necessary “evil” of my job, it has become clear there are a lot of angry, anxious and frustrated people out there and with local elections in the air, there have been some very toxic comments in circulation – so now it is time to spring clean the keyboard warriors – often with fake profiles.
Having been on the receiving end of some, which unfortunately goes with the territory, I know only too well how personal insults can impact your mental health.
It is easy to criticise from a keyboard and lash out at those in the community, who are very often just trying to do their best.
Most people involved in public life I have met, do it for the right reasons – to try and make a meaningful difference in their local communities.
Yes, I know there are some career politicians, who are financially rewarded for their endeavours, but the vast majority, especially parish councillors and community volunteers, do it because they want to help people.
Healthy debate and being critical of manifesto policies is one thing, but personal toxic and abusive insults are totally out of order.
Freedom of speech is essential – but allowing people to be abusive and nasty and insulting is something we can do without.
So after a trial period on our Lymm Life Facebook group, we have now decided to include a Zero Tolerance policy on all our Facebook groups and pages that anyone who is abusive to others with personal insults or foul and abusive language will be blocked – and the worst offenders reported to Facebook or even the police if deemed threatening and hateful.
We and the vast majority of like-minded people don’t want these people spouting their poison in our community – no doubt I will be called a dictator by some – but the groups and pages are part of our business – and I believe if all media had similar principles the world would be a better place.
Sadly some of those in high places have not been good role models but having experienced hateful comments myself and knowing others who have been on the receiving end of toxic posts and comments it is time to draw a line in the sand – and hopefully, this article will start the cleansing process.

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

6 Comments

  1. Respect Gary! Thank goodness there is some decency among the media. The number of offensive and abusive comments I’ve seen, and also been subjected to, recently are a very sad reflection of the society we live in and those who only see fit to make such comments from the relative safety of a keyboard.
    Recent video clips of Parish Councils that have gone viral because of the farcical, and often toxic, nature of their comments only serve to confirm that a growing number of people are not prepared to discuss or debate in a civilised manner.
    Thank you making a stand for decency.

  2. Gary,

    Your factual straight-talking reporting has been a beacon of hope in these uncertain times and it is a real sad state of affairs that somebody as genuine as yourself have to take such and approach.

    It is a sign of these times that this practice is on the increase with mental health needs and pure old boredom rocketing upwards during lockdown.

    Now more than ever we to drop the hate and work that little bit harder to find the common ground rather than the easy, judgemental and highly addictive fix of negativitely. Communicate, collaborate and stand against hate.

    Keep up the hard work Team WW, stopping the war one click at a time 💜

    • Thanks for this Gary you are making a great stand based on s lot of experience. I must thank you for providing evidence for my .MSc in 2010 entitled 21st century councillor a term I heard at my 1st training session. I found at the time that councillors were afraid to use social media both here and in the Isle of Man.

      The Manx used it much more …

      I became the 1st Digital Mayor in 2016 and faced a load of abuse trying to calm members down in Council Meetings you publicised my appeal for discipline I even got an old fashioned 4 page thread when I invite four people who complained about my conduct to instil discipline of WBC rules brought in at the time.
      I invited all 4 complaint holders to my chamber and only one came and we had a frank exchange
      Keep up the good work

      No women were involved only men and one of who tackled me a out a Sue Blyth issue with the Room at the inn that I was dealing with and supporting. At the same time as trying to find the same amount of money that we were after,£30k for Dial a Ride I was vice-chair and two of our directors had recently died and our manager was retiring a brilliant lady came to help save the day I was at the end of my term and on the dark steps of the town hall in pouring rain I shamelessly shouted out after he went back to the other side of the barriers – nobody threatens me.

      It was the time of the room at the inn facing closure and I had been working and speaking at 2 of their AGMs taking in a few supplied etc When She first met me she thought I was homeless but I got to met Pete and have several subsequent chats – he’s s character and I think since the age of 14 had been living outside which he loves you will see him under the main church clock old make a small donation it keeps him going……..
      Sad to say that we have lost some excellent councillors as I believe s direct consequence of the trolls some of who I believe were councillors – getting evidence is difficult because as Gary these cowards usually men hide behind an alias mask.

    • Brilliant piece! Well done to the journalist who has decided to speak out about this toxic culture. Its certainly destroyed Penketh. The Trolls led by the Independent Councillors in Penketh are shocking. The phrase ” Freedom of speech” seems to be synonymous with “let me abuse you whilst everyone just sits back and lets it happen” I salute you for standing up for change! We would be so grateful in Penketh if the “zero tolerance” policy could extend to the pages here. Sadly most of the admins of the big main pages are part of the trolling gang themselves.

  3. Thanks for this Gary you are making a great stand based on s lot of experience. I must thank you for providing evidence for my .MSc in 2010 entitled 21st century councillor a term I heard at my 1st training session. I found at the time that councillors were afraid to use social media both here and in the Isle of Man.

    The Manx used it much more …
    I became the 1st Digital Mayor in 2016 and faced a load of abuse trying to calm members down in Council Meetings you publicised my appeal for discipline I even got an old fashioned 4 page thread when I invite four people who complained about my conduct to instil discipline of WBC rules brought in at the time.
    I invited all 4 complaint holders to my chamber and only one came and we had a frank exchange
    Keep up the good work

    No women were involved only men and one of who tackled me a out a Sue Blyth issue with the Room at the inn that I was dealing with and supporting. At the same time as trying to find the same amount of money that we were after,£30k for Dial a Ride I was vice-chair and two of our directors had recently died and our manager was retiring a brilliant lady came to help save the day I was at the end of my term and on the dark steps of the town hall in pouring rain I shamelessly shouted out after he went back to the other side of the barriers – nobody threatens me.

    It was the time of the room at the inn facing closure and I had been working and speaking at 2 of their AGMs taking in a few supplied etc When she first met me she thought I was homeless but I got to met Pete and have several subsequent chats – he’s s character and I think since the age of 14 had been living outside which he loves you will see him under the main church clock old make a small donation it keeps him going……..
    Sad to say that we have lost some excellent councillors I believe as a direct consequence of the trolls some of who I believe were councillors – getting evidence is difficult because as Gary these cowards usually men hide behind an alias mask.

  4. And the great councillors who I believe were targeted by the trolls were all we. Getting the evidence is the hard part but the pact on their mental health was great.

    I’ve got used to it and sound some up that the’ve called around to see .e when I’ve guessed who they
    The physical threat I received as Mayor w
    As dealt with by the inspector who I was confiding with. He. said now that you have told me I suggest you go to Risley Police station and report the incident. It was dealt with very well and I was satisfied with the outcome. Either way that is the course k would take as Gary days on his excellent article.

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