Natasha MacBride; the Rise of Insensitivity and the Decline of Social Morality…

Posted: December 2, 2012 in (All Things) CULTURE, (Politics) CURRENT AFFAIRS
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


A recurring theme in news items and print journalism in recent years has been the issue of accountability of on-line commentators and the underlying question of whether it’s a good or bad thing that we now live in a world where everyone has the platform to express their uncensored views and act as social commentator.

Accompanying this are issues of regulating the internet, with legal action being taken more and more in recent months against, for example, people on Twitter. Issues of freedom of speech, etc, obviously crop up here too. At what point does an opinion become a ‘crime’? Should an opinion ever be thought of as a ‘crime’? And at what point does the ‘right to offend’ cross some kind of unacceptable boundary – and who defines what that boundary is?

Issues of freedom of expression and the “right to offend” are too big and difficult a subject to enter into here (obviously it’s all relative; I’d defend the right of Ricky Gervais to be funny and offensive at the same time, but not the right of an EDL member to call for mistreatment of Muslim minorities or of an Abu Qatada type to incite criminal activity against ‘non-believers’); my real interest in this particular instance is the ‘trolling’ culture,  both interesting and troubling in equal measure.

There are numerous examples of the cyber-bullying culture, but to highlight the point I’m citing here specifically the story of Natasha MacBride; a 15 year-old schoolgirl who committed suicide by jumping under a train after being bullied about her parents’ divorce. A tribute page put on-line by school friends was quickly hijacked by internet bullies who posted insults and slurs. Further to this a video appeared on You Tube making fun of her death.

There are two aspects to this that quickly reinforce a point of view that I’ve been coming around to more and more; the first is that certain sections of society, and Natasha MacBride’s generation in particular, are in an advanced state of moral decline. And the second is that, although social networks and the web in general have their majorly positive aspects (fan communities, special interest groups, social or political activism, supporting independent journalism, for example), it also provides an almost limitless platform for the worst kinds of people and their cancerous activity.

People afforded the protection and anonymity of the on-line medium are freed of all inhibitions or parameters; whether this means casual demeaning of women or racist slurs on the one hand or making fun of a child suicide on the other hand, it all amounts to the same thing. It appears that people, when given the license, are heartless, vindictive and generally scummy.

There is a growing acceptance and even celebration of insensitivity and even cruelty, especially involving a generation that has never not had the Internet. And those attitudes aren’t confined to the on-line medium, but are expanding into other areas of life.

The web, broadly an immeasurable success story in terms of its cultural and technological impact, also has a host of negative side-effects on a social level. The main point, in terms of the Natasha MacBride thing, is that, while it’s a truly great thing that the web has given so many people, movements, ideas, artists, writers and innovators of various kinds the type of voice, platform and possibilities that they never could have enjoyed a generation ago, the flipside is that it also gives that same voice and platform to people who have absolutely NOTHING of any merit or value to put across and whose only purpose on-line seems to be to hijack, sully, insult or harm.

Let’s face it; about four out of every ten people in the world are idiots, and I’d reckon that around the same ratio consists of people with an above-average capacity for bullying and nastiness. And outside of the school playground, the Internet is the arena in which they can now thrive.

It’s one thing to piss all over the tragic death of a teenage girl – which is disgusting enough – but the modern phenomenon of ‘cyber-bullying’ goes further than that and also involves on-line death threats via social networks, encouraging people (in a lot of cases very young people, at that) to commit suicide, and the like, in some instances with direct and fatal outcomes. The Internet is the ultimate freedom of expression and that is it’s greatest virtue; but consider that the social and moral dynamics of our major platforms are having a degrading effect on certain aspects of society and social morality, particularly in regard to younger people.

In five to ten years time that effect will be even more evident and it will have thoroughly transferred off-line and into the real world too. We’re well down that road already, in fact.




The growing acceptance of insensitivity and cruelty (including cruelty for the sake of amusement – another trend that’s been growing for ten years when happy slapping first became a fun sport for morons) among certain sections of society is directly related to the decline in culture; a culture which increasingly even frowns upon any allusion to the term ‘morality’, due to its perceived religious undertones. I myself am not a moraliser by any means – but merely commenting from observation; that observation being a decline in numerous areas of both general culture and social dynamics.

I’m not trying to be the curmudgeonly doomsayer, bemoaning the decline of civilization or anything like that; this is mere observation. And if we do some time soon (by ’soon’ I include anything up to a decade) end up in a situation where the worst of society are holding everyone else to ransom, then it also may pave the way for a future right-wing backlash; a kind of zero-tolerance society and government which goes in the other direction entirely.

In general, I would argue that desensitization and diminishment of any capacity for empathy are the very worst things that can happen to a society or a generation; potentially paving the way for much worse. Finally, going back to the specific issue of Natasha MacBride – a young woman who, like many people before her, was driven to suicide by bullying – the fact that the bullying CONTINUED after her death just makes you wonder what goes on in people’s minds.

Coupled to the general rise and acceptance of insensitivity, it also seems to be that very little is considered sacred anymore. For some, freedom of expression doesn’t mean artistic liberty or the right to demonstrate, it merely means a license to shower abuse on anything and everything they can find; even a dead child.


  1. Michael Aumeerally says:

    I think this is a greater reflection of humanity revealing it’s true colours. I don’t think morale standards have changed greatly from that of many decades or centuries ago. Humanity suffers from the same old complexes it ever has; discrimination, exploitation, and selfishness and ignorance. You can cite so many examples of atrocities of the past, from genocide, religious crusades, slavery and so forth. Society has developed by either trying to educate the masses, or overlooking the worst of the situation and focusing on trying to find a solution. The instances you quote are that of people who will never contribute to society in any meaningful way. For me it is the problem solvers of this world who are the ones who help the world evolve; from creating infrastructure to give us electricity, heat, food and running water, to building machines that help us with our every day needs.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.