Another weekend, another football sex scandal splashed all over the front of the Sunday tabloids. This time it’s the turn of Wayne Rooney who allegedly paid for sex with a prostitute whilst his wife Coleen was pregnant.
Whatever the truth behind the allegations, the social media world has been revelling in the news since it first broke. At the time of writing this post, Wayne Rooney is a trending topic on Twitter with new updates being posted approximately every 18 seconds (according to social mention). The micro blogging site is awash with comments, jokes and slander from the general public, with everyone offering their thoughts on the scandal.
It’s true that many of the jokes evoke a chuckle but something about the whole situation makes me slightly uncomfortable. Before the days of social media, tabloid scandals tended to be read, commented about on TV and discussed in the pub with your mates for a couple of days after.
Modern news consumption is a totally different ball game, one in which the public has a platform and receptive audience to share their thoughts and opinions. For the most part, this is a positive thing, as citizen journalism in the form of social media has given everyone a voice and the power to help set the news agenda. The downside is that people now feel free to openly share their thoughts, no matter how critical or potentially hurtful they are to those on the receiving end.
For Coleen and Wayne, reading the ‘exclusive’ coverage in the NOTW will not have been a pleasant experience. But, how much worse must it be to see millions of people across the web commenting on your private life? A giant blanket of faceless opinion on the scandal is now forever documented in Google’s bottomless vault of information.
Just recently, X-Factor’s Joe McElderry announced that he was gay, the pressure to come out stemming from constant rumours spread on Twitter. Although celebrities are in the public eye and expect to be the subjects of gossip, it is unsettling that it has now become so easy to pass and share judgement, with social media providing the perfect platform.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge advocate of social media; it has changed the way we live and work in an unprecedented way. But the fact that we can publish anything and everything with the click of a mouse has made it easy for people to behave in ways that they might not in the real world. In the world of online communication, is the social sometimes in danger of becoming anti-social I wonder?