Bolton Wanderers' Club Chaplain, Phil Mason, has written an article about the impact of online hatred and how it must stop
There has been much spoken about in the media recently about the impact upon people’s lives of discrimination and hatred that is directed at individuals through various and many social media channels.
We are all aware of the long term damage that can cause to people and the impact that it can have on their mental health. In some cases we know that has even led to the individual taking their own life.
Recently our own Manager, Ian Evatt, has rightly spoken out about some of the on line abuse that he and the players have received and the pain that can cause for individuals.
In the wider football world we have seen some horrific examples of abuse.
Anton Ferdinand gives a player’s perspective of the impact of online hate, in which he says, “As footballers we are held accountable for our actions all the time - why aren’t the people that are sending abuse, and the social media platforms, held to account too? I had no escape from being racially abused, whether that was on the streets or social media. The ripple effect the abuse had on me and my family, I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience that.”
"Sanjay Bhandari, Executive Chair at Kick It Out, who chaired a recent discussion bringing together key football authorities and organisations to discuss the matter said: “Online hate thrives because there is a culture of impunity – people feel free to say what they want because they are confident there will be no consequences. That must change. Online hate must have real-world consequences. We will only change that culture by working as a team and we will now meet on a regular basis as a working group to drive change. I welcome the commitment of football and social media to turn words of intent into meaningful action.”
"The aim of this initial discussion, which will be a regular fixture moving forward, was to discuss how football and social media can be places where everyone feels they belong, and what action needs to be taken to make that happen.
"Clearly social media companies have to start to really make people accountable for their words and that campaigning is taking place.
However, as our Manager, said recently: “If people are critiquing my job as a manager, or players’ performance then that is the nature of the beast. When it becomes deeper, or personal, it can cause severe damage.
“We have to understand what is being said, the words you use. Think about the other person and their feelings. Social media companies have to police it better and whether that comes from the government, I don’t know.
“You should not be allowed to make up a random account and start firing abuse at someone.
“We have to learn our lessons. Social media networks are becoming a pretty negative place.”
I believe we all have a part to play and must call out such behaviour and bring an end to this kind of abuse that has no room in our society.
Bolton Wanderers Football Club will be taking part in the Social Media Blackout from 3pm on Friday.