Whenever I write the blog I’m never sure what sort of reaction I’m going to receive, sometimes it’s the complete opposite of what I expect.
Many a time I have written something I’ve perceived to be innocuous and it had generated an almost thermonuclear response, other times I’ve written something I thought would be really contentious and most of the feedback has been positive and supportive.
I was surprised with last week’s blog when I was expecting some backlash, the surprising aspect was the strongest backlash came against my criticism of Channel Four and their not giving the real reason for Michael Hills “retirement day” absence.
One of my correspondents indignantly called on me to “remove my snide comments about C4” after pointing our C4 and RUK had simply repeated a statement issued by Hills.
I responded thus:-
The comments are not snide at all.
C4 chose to broadcast Hills statement at face value and then chose not to correct what they had broadcast when the real reason came into the public domain.
The real reason for Hills not racing was freely available. I wasn't even at a racecourse and I had access to the official explanation well before C4 went off air.
Indeed instead of correcting what they said C4 repeated the Hills version of events, well after the real reason was in the public domain.
At best it shows a lack of fact checking on Channel four's part at worse, which I suspect, a cover-up so as not to piss on Hills farewell.
You know as well as I do there is a tendency to close ranks in racing
and this is a prime example.
So I stand by what I said, 100%, indeed I think I was actually very restrained.
It also transpires the same story about Hills being unwell was broadcast over the PA at Newmarket, so although my criticism was directed at Channel Four it should, perhaps, have been directed more widely as it seems Newmarket Racecourse may also have been part of the conspiracy to “protect” Hills.
Some of the feedback is quite surreal, like the following example:-
“HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH YOU osterpaulmeyer. Do you even LIFT? “
I suppose in the old days of pen and paper it would have been scrawled in green ink.
I wasn’t too sure how to respond to that one, not least because, unsurprisingly, it was anonymous.
One response could be does your Mummy know you are playing with her computer? Alternatively I could respond about care in the community clearly not working very well.
Clearly whoever sent the well thought out response does have some literacy issues.
Now I don’t actually mind getting responses which are critical of me or which choose to verbally attack me. After all I’m more than happy to dish out criticism where I feel it is justified and on those grounds alone it would be hypocritical of me not to accept criticism myself.
I recall in a previous job where I was effectively an “enforcer” and it had been a torrid week, the end of which had seen four formal “complaints”, including one from a very senior director, about my “direct” approach. Normally such complaints were like water off a ducks back but even I was surprised with four so I had a chat with my boss.
Two things stuck in my mind after that conversation, the first was “nowhere in your job description does it say you have to be popular, I employ you to get results and you do that” and the other was “if people are complaining about you, it means you are doing your job properly. People don’t like having their shortcomings pointed out. The day I stop getting complaints will be the day I start questioning you are doing your job properly.”
However the two examples I cited above do show a marked contrast. The first comment about Channel Four was signed, it was from someone who actually broadcasts themselves and someone whose opinion I respect although, on this occasion, I don’t agree with.
At least we are able to debate the issue and, if need be agree to differ.
What I do take exception to is the anonymous snipers, as in the case of the second example. I have no time for those who will only attack or criticise from behind a cloak of anonymity, even if their criticism is valid and accurate why should any respect be shown to someone who isn’t prepared to openly say who they are.
So to any of my readers who take issue with what I have to say bring it on, let’s discuss and debate the issues but if you want a debate don’t be a coward and hide behind a cloak of anonymity – grow some balls and have the courage to make your point openly.
Jockey James Millman is a breath of fresh air, he has embraced social media and is one of the most open jockeys out there and is one of the most honest. Last week, even by his own admission, he had a bad day at the office at Wolverhampton and who of us hasn’t had a bad day at work. However the abuse he was subjected was out of all proportion and, unsurprisingly, the most vitriolic came from the anonymous posters. As a result he was threatening to walk away from Twitter, hopefully he will reconsider as he shouldn’t let the bullies win.
Too many people think they can write what they want on social media outlets and they can write with impunity. They are so mistaken as some found out last week as they were before the courts for revealing the name of a rape victim, which is protected by law. In my view they were very lucky to get away with a modest fine.
More recently we have had the wholly unfounded allegations made against a former senior Conservative Minister which have been discussed on Twitter and in blogs. Hopefully those who named him will be suitably and punitively punished and this unsavoury incident will result in a change in the way people approach social media and people will think before they post.
One final thought for those who chose to post anonymously. Unless you are technically very, very clever and reading what they frequently post intelligence isn’t a dominant attribute, then your posts will not be anonymous and you can be traced.