Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

YouTube Is Not the Bully: Don't Blame the Internet for Bringing Social Ills to Our Attention, Writes Becky Hogge

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

YouTube Is Not the Bully: Don't Blame the Internet for Bringing Social Ills to Our Attention, Writes Becky Hogge

Article excerpt

Some people are so quick to judge. At the beginning of August, the national treasure that is Sir Elton John was reported, albeit by that other great national treasure, the Sun newspaper, as calling for a complete closure of the internet. Apparently, Reg was advocating an experimental halt to all internet traffic in order to see whether, as he believed it might, such a return to our creative roots would stem the tide of mediocrity in popular music. As part of his Luddite rant, Elton chastised Sun readers, telling them to "get out there--communicate", which prompted one of my more sardonic email pals to quip: "You can see he's really got the whole internet thing, can't you?"

That very same day, delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers conference backed a motion calling for the total shutdown of the video-sharing site YouTube, in order to help stop bullying in schools. Such naysaying would be enough to drive one into a white-hot rage, were it not so amusing. Preparing to leave the house for work last week, I was stopped in my tracks by a slot on Radio 4's increasingly geriatric Today programme, wherein Gyles Brandreth, president of the Association of British Scrabble Players, was pleasantly ribbing the creator of an online version called Scrabulous for taking the social activity out of the beautiful game.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As this week's issue goes to press, I have advanced one year closer to 30. But I am still young enough to believe passionately that this newfangled technology is on the whole a Good Thing; that the democratisation of media is not a threat, but a powerful force for change in our society; that letting people with shared tastes connect, regardless of geographic location, encourages diversity, not mediocrity; and that complaining that socialising online is not really socialising at all is just, well, a bit dumb. …

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