Our inability to teach basic values is at the heart of the storm over social media abuse
Opinion: Sexual intimacy should be reserved for mature, committed relationships
The Slane concert: there were 750 police present this year, but no matter how well policed or well organised, our societal tolerance for public drunkenness tends to give a free pass to unacceptable behaviour. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
The site caused such anger that a near-riot ensued outside a school where one of the girls who set up the site was allegedly a student. The two girls were charged with aggravated defamation and found guilty. One was sentenced to juvenile detention, and the other got 45 hours’ community service. They were fined 570,000 krona (€65,500), to be divided among their 38 victims. In an interesting twist, the older girl’s mother was made responsible for half of the fine.
Given the furore over the recent Eminem concert, where images of young people engaged in sexual acts went viral, does the Swedish case provide a model for how to deal with such incidents?
If only it were that easy.
Many commentators have noted how differently the young men in the concert incident are being treated in comparison to the young woman.
Apparently, you are still considered to be “legend” if you are male and engaging in a sexual act in public, but will be subject to tirades of abuse if you are female.
However, double standards are not the whole story. Would it improve matters if the girl was being applauded as “legend” too? Obviously, verbal abuse is not appropriate in either case.
Then there is the role of alcohol. The Slane concert had 750 police present, and more than 60 arrests were made, mostly for minor drug offences or for being drunk and disorderly.
‘Under the influence’
But no matter how well-policed or organised events are, Irish people tolerate a level of public drunkenness unthinkable in other societies, and tend to give a free pass to anyone acting “under the influence”.
It is likely alcohol was a feature in this whole mess, and while there have been reports that the young woman’s drink could have been spiked, it is far more likely that our liquid drug of choice, alcohol, on which we spent €6.36 billion last year, played a far bigger role.
No doubt alcohol influenced some who forwarded the controversial images too. But no free pass should be available for that, either.
The internet has magnified everything, including human tendencies to shame and ridicule the behaviour of others. As Una Mullally pointed out in this paper, internet interactions have led to a decrease in empathy. She suggests that the lack of empathy results from the inability to see human cues, such as seeing the distress displayed in facial and body language.