Over this last week, those of us in Western Australia have been subjected to the story of a Perth woman who posted a photo and a corresponding diatribe on Facebook with regards to how someone parked. According to the woman, the driver in question parked across “not 1 but 2 disable (sic) parking spaces”, and that wasn’t the only name and shame she heaped on the driver. It is a story that has perhaps also been reported across the rest of Australia, and perhaps it’s made its way around the globe. Lord knows the speed of things travelling globally via the Internet is incredible.
In many countries, a name and shame post via Social Media would probably be old news in a day or so, and it generally wouldn’t conclude with any sort of serious repercussions. However, what needs to be noted is that the woman who posted the photo and diatribe was not living in one of those countries. Nope, since around 2012, she has been living in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, so you’d think she’d have some knowledge of the laws of the country. Wouldn’t you?
Australians are funny critters. When a person from another country comes here, and doesn’t fit in with our norms, we’re quick to shout them down with the grand old statement of ‘you’re in our country now, so you need to abide by our laws, and fit in with our culture’. But when an Aussie goes to another country, and does something that gets them in trouble, we’re quick with a comeback that implies the laws of the other country are stupid, out-dated, or inhumane. And to that I say, back the truck up; you can’t have your cake, and eat it too. You can’t switch your perspective based upon what country you’re in. No, no, no, in the interests of fairness that just won’t do. You insist that people in Australia do the time if they do the crime, and the same works when you, as an Aussie, go overseas to other countries.
Back on point: not content with having been charged, and found guilty in absentia, and jailed, and then deported, this 39 year old West Australian woman continues to push the boundaries regarding her crime in the UAE, her incarceration, and the general judicial system of the UAE. What I’m trying to get across here is that you’d think this woman would have learned a lesson after her recent albeit self-induced stressful situation . . . but no, she can’t help but feel the need to get her truth across. At 39 year of age, you’d think that a person would know when to keep their yapper shut, and for this woman, that time is now.
A little background about her that I’ve discovered from creeping her Facebook profile. She’s a graphic artist who has been in the UAE since 2012, where she has been teaching Emirati women all about art, and graphic art. Having checked out some of the photos she’s posted, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. The first is that she is quite the talented artist. Really, some of her work is very well done. The second conclusion I’ve made from her Facebook page is that she comes across as a bit of a stirrer, an agitator, someone who pushes the boundaries, and perhaps she doesn’t push them in quite the smartest of ways . . . and by smartest I mean that to me she comes across as someone who is abrasive when they don’t agree with the views of others, that she appears to choose the inflammatory way of making a point. It’s an especially dumba$$ thing to do if you’re living in another country. And in this case, especially dumba$$ when it’s a country that has very specific laws against cybercrime.
Scrolling through her posts and pictures, there are quite a few posts that I would deem inflammatory. An example of this is a meme that she, along with Lord knows how many other Aussies, shared of our PM, Tony Abbott. A pertinent sidenote: It’s fair to say that Mr. Abbott is not a particularly popular politician in our country, with just about everyone you ask saying that they didn’t vote for him, nor do they agree with his policies or decisions . . . or many other politicians in his cabinet and party. The best bit about living in Australia is that you can indeed express your dislike or disapproval of our politicians. This particular meme essentially implies a) Mr. Abbott is of lesser intelligence than the sharer of the meme, and b) Mr. Abbott doesn’t speak for the Australian people. Now, whilst ‘b’ may ring true, I think it is in poor taste to scream ‘a’ to the world in such an inflammatory fashion.
The woman in question has also produced a piece of art likening Gina Rinehart to Marie Antoinette, which she has entitled ‘The joy of Gina: let them eat coal’. There is wondrous beauty in art, and artists have always pushed the envelope, tested boundaries, and encouraged society to give think and give careful consideration to issues. That’s what we want and need in the world, isn’t it? Free thinkers, revolutionaries, boundary testers and envelope pushers? I’m all for those people, but . . . and as I always say at this point, ‘there’s always a but’ . . . but there’s boundary testers, and then there are those who simply come across, whether it’s intentional or not, as people who are not testing boundaries for critical revolution but rather for their own self-serving purposes, for their fifteen minutes of fame, for notoriety, for attention. So, at this point, you can call me cynical, but an artist who maybe wants to get her artwork known could use a situation like this to her advantage.
I’m not implying that this whole situation was a construct to garner attention. No, I think she genuinely f*#ked up by posting the name and shame photo and update. I think she probably thought she was doing something community minded. After all, only a few weeks ago a video went viral showing a group of people ‘teaching a driver a lesson’ after he parked in a disabled parking space. When he returned to his car it was covered in Post-It notes that depicted the logo for disabled parking zones. And perhaps she was genuinely crapped off that this person kept parking in the specified disabled zone in her apartment building. But, in a country like the UAE, or anywhere else that has strict cybercrime laws, you can’t expect to get away with posting a name and shame update without repercussions.
With hindsight, she has tried to defend her words in the post by saying that she used the word ‘Nobness’ as it is defined in the Oxford Dictionary, referring to a person of high social position/status or wealth. Yeah, right. Lady, you’re an Aussie. Aussies don’t refer to people as nobs when they want to talk about social position. No, in Australia, a nob is a dick, and referring to someone as a nob is an insult. So if you refer to an action as ‘King Nobness’, well, if you’re an Aussie you think this person is the king of all dicks. Then there’s the fact that one of the ‘King Nobness’ actions the driver has committed is the fact that they drive (and possibly own) a Hummer. The biggest, baddest, social status grabbing SUVs that you could possibly own. Oh artist lady, there’s no way you were just pointing out an injustice. You wanted to embarrass, and humiliate the driver.
The lesson in all of this that I think many, many people in the world need to learn is this: keyboard warriors cause real life reactions, and the name and shame culture that has cropped up on Social Media must cease and desist. Ask the dad who, earlier this year, was named and shamed via Facebook as being some kind of kiddie pervert when in fact he was taking a selfie in front of a cardboard cut-out in front of a cinema. Hundreds if not thousands of people shared that post. He was slandered and defamed for taking a selfie because someone figured that a man alone taking a photo out the front of a cinema was not normal. Bullsh!t. Someone jumped to a conclusion, and made an assumption that definitely made an a$$ out of her. Did all of those people who shared the post apologise to the father, and retract what they had shared? I very much doubt it, and even if they did, it was already out there on the great World Wide Web for everyone to see.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what you social position is, who you work for, the lesson is simple: think before you press send. If it’s not something that you’d happily say to someone’s face, don’t post it online. For anyone who might be thinking that I’m a tad hypocritical, yes, I would say all this to the artist woman. Not to mention the fact that she’s already, quite happily and speedily, shared her experiences online. Seems she’s already named and shamed herself. And if I’ve managed to p!ss you off with this post, maybe I’ve at least got you to think about the sh!t you post on Social Media, especially if you’re into the name and shame game.
A final word about online naming and shaming: please consider before you share that cr@p, the impact of you sharing on any legal case that might be brought against the person you’ve named and shamed. I know that a lot of people are pro name and shame criminals, but if there’s a legal case already against them, or there’s the potential for one to be brought against them for their criminal activities, your name and shame post has the potential to f*#k up that court case because you’ve engaged in defamation or libel of the shifty, criminal git. And yes, I do know that to be true because in order to assist with the prosecution of a murderer, I was asked by detectives to remove a post from my blog for the duration of the murder trial – not that I’d written anything libellous or defamatory* but because, along with the police, prosecution, and victims’ families, I wanted to ensure that the man charged and subsequently convicted of the crime had a fair trial, and paid for his crime.
Just don’t post that name and shame sh!t. Ever.
*A detective informed me that police had read my post about a murdered friend, and it was in no way libellous or defamatory to the man charged with the crimes, and I was free to repost the article once the trial had ended. The police were happy for me to simply remove a comment that spoke against the charged man because the person who wrote it was actually testifying for him, despite hating on him in the comment. In the interests of making sure that I didn’t do anything that would jeopardise the trial, I felt it best to remove the whole post because yes, I wanted the guy to have a fair trial that would find him guilty and have him incarcerated him for his crimes.