+++++++ All images in this post link to the NSPCC website. Please make a donation if you feel affected by what you read here +++++++
The content of this post was updated on June 1st 2014 – the new content is in italics within the post
Hello Little Lewes readers, followers and subscribers.
This is a sort of quick post while I find my way around the new back end of the blog.
There have been some changes at Little Lewes in the past couple of days that I wanted to let you know about. First, with the help of the excellent local front end developer Barry Bloye, the blog has been moved away from WordPress.com to become self-hosted. What this means is that I will have more creative freedom with it. It also means I’m allowed to make money from it if I choose to pursue that. WordPress.com wouldn’t have allowed that apparently.
You may notice that the masthead (is that what you call it on a blog? Spot the girl with the magazine background…) is now lowercase. This is a tiny change for now, but the caps were a bit shouty I thought. A whole ‘rebrand’, if you like, is in its future, so watch this space.
Second – and a much bigger change I think – is that I have deleted my personal account from Facebook. This means that the Little Lewes Facebook page no longer exists.
I’ll give you the same reason I gave to my personal Facebook friends, the day before I disabled my account:
‘I’m leaving Facebook tomorrow after over 10 years of loving and loathing it. I will miss seeing your beautiful weddings and smiling children, fun holidays and knowing when your birthdays are. Why am I leaving? This is in NO WAY a judgement on people who have shared it, because I know it was done with good intentions, but last night a video of a woman viciously beating a baby appeared on my timeline and started running before I could scroll past it. I have lain awake all night wanting to scrub my eyeballs and undo what I saw. I want to run to that baby and bring it home with me. Has the use of Facebook reached a new low, that it makes us think that by sending a video like this viral, we are doing anything to help that poor poor baby? That we compare anything about it – including sending it viral – to creating an overnight success of Gangnam Style? I still feel sickened every time I think about it. And I cannot stop thinking about it. It is not that I want to pretend these things don’t happen, and feel safe in my own little life. I just don’t know how sharing two minutes of that poor abused child’s everyday reality is doing anything good for the child. Or what it says about what social media – and us as users of it – has become.’
I posted something similar to the Little Lewes page, a couple of times. But I know many of its likers were at Elderflower Fields, or away for half term. I haven’t timed this particularly well, but I also can’t remain on Facebook a minute longer.
And neither can this blog.
Perhaps if you want to continue to follow, you’ll hit ‘Subscribe’ to the right. The posts will come straight to your email inbox – and there may be more than one a day because the images and comments that I used to put on Facebook may need to find their home here instead. I appreciate that that could be annoying!
(For WordPress.com users who are following Little Lewes through WP, you’ll need to re-hit ‘Subscribe’ in the right bar too I’m afraid. Since LL is no longer part of WordPress.com, you won’t receive notifications through the blogging platform of new posts.)
In truth, losing the 262 likers that I had on Facebook could be the death knell for the blog because according to my stats, I got a lot of traffic from Facebook. But, well, I’m taking that risk. I can’t publicise a blog on Facebook that’s about the things our lucky, lucky children get to do in this incredibly nice, safe little town of ours when I feel as I do and have seen what I saw.
The thing is, I feel like I’m having a sort of existential episode over it. I probably sound right up myself – I really don’t mean to.
The fact is, I was given no warning about the extreme and harrowing nature of that video. I can’t ever unsee what I saw on it. So I feel a bit fearful (and tearful) about what Facebook has done to us as human beings, that it makes us blithely hit a button that says ‘share’ to pass on a video that – and I feel like throwing up when I think of this – someone stood and filmed, and then sat down at a computer and uploaded to the Internet.
Someone stood. And filmed. A baby being tortured. And then put it online.
And then people hit that ‘share‘ button – which effectively MADE other people watch that little baby being abused – and somehow felt good about themselves for doing it. It just all makes me really uncomfortable.
I gather from a Little Lewes reader, who I would like to thank for letting me know (you know who you are), that the woman in the video has been caught, apparently thanks to the Mail Online picking up the story and publishing stills of the video (which as the reader said, makes them no better). When I heard this, I couldn’t look into it because I didn’t want to risk seeing the pictures. < This fact is incorrect – the abuse took place in Malaysia and the Mail had nothing to do with the woman’s arrest.
Then, a week after I first published this post, a new follower on Twitter who is in child protection told me two even more troubling things.
1) The woman in the video was arrested and imprisoned A YEAR before it was first uploaded to Facebook. So all the ‘help’ people think they are giving by sharing it was towards nothing. And the people exposed to it and upset by it are so for nothing.
2) Facebook has received complaints about the video but refuses to stop its circulation. It says that the video ‘does not breach their community standards’ and that it helps to ‘educate’ people. But my child protection agent follower correctly points out that what it does for Facebook is generate traffic and that even if it upsets people and is wildly out of date (so not actually helping anyone) that’s all Facebook really cares about.
I am of course relieved that I need no longer fear for that baby – and the child of five or so who was in the room watching the abuse take place.
But it does not take away the awful feelings I felt when it started playing on my timeline. Or that I’ve experienced since. Or that I am now experiencing again knowing that Facebook is happy that people are sharing it and that those who are made to view it feel like I do if it ups the site’s traffic.
And worst of all, it doesn’t take away that the abuse took place.
Anyway, I don’t know. I just don’t really want to be part of it all any longer.
Actually, I do know. I really can’t be.
Of course I hope you’ll stick with Little Lewes. But I know tapping into it lacks convenience now.
I would like to keep writing the blog and for people to keep enjoying it. But without being able to publicise posts on Facebook, it’s going to be harder to reach those people.
For now I think I’ll just inch along and see how it all pans out.
Thank you for reading.
P.S. I would be a hypocrite if I had such a sense of self importance that I thought by stopping using Facebook – and making you all read about it! – I am in some way helping that poor baby or the many others out there that this kind of thing happens to. So if Little Lewes continues to gain momentum, I’d like to use it to some good – namely some kind of creative, thought-through, fun, effective fund raising for the NSPCC or similar. I hope you’ll be up for an event, an online raffle (of really really good stuff!) or something similar. I have a lot of thinking to do!
Please leave your thoughts on this post in the comments section (the way you would do on a Facebook post!). Especially if your response to gathering some money together in the name of all this is ‘hells yeah!’.
Meantime IF you feel affected by what you’ve read here, please click the image below to be taken to the NSPCC website, and make a donation.