Social Media Revenge Is The New Norm But It Ain't The High Road 5 years ago

Social Media Revenge Is The New Norm But It Ain't The High Road

Last week, Manchester mum, Nicola Colenso wrote a Facebook post to shame a woman who had treated her and her family abominably on a Jet2 flight from Ibiza.

Colenso's 8-year-old daughter, Yasmin, has a rare condition called Sturge-Weber Syndrome which is associated with seizures and developmental difficulties. Yasmin was seriously struggling on the flight and was disturbing the woman sitting in front of her who then in turn verbally abused the child.

It was behaviour that is disgusting and inexcusable. Regardless that the child suffers with health issues, no child should be spoken to in that manner. No human for that matter really needs to be on the receiving end of such ignorance and rudeness.

In her post which has since been shared over 100,000 times, Colenso described how the woman turned around and told the family to "Shut that child up" as the parents attempted to calm their daughter (and presumably look after their three other children who were also on the flight).

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Dad, Rick maintains that he tried to explain to the woman about his daughter's condition and was called a pr*ck by the woman.

The parents did not report the verbal abuse to staff on the flight and instead secretly snapped a pic of the perpetrator to post to social media along with an open letter detailing the incident.

The mum-of-four wanted to share her story on social media to highlight the difficulties families have traveling with children with special needs.


But is that all she wanted?

There's no denying the terrible struggles parents of a child with such an acute condition as Yasmin's face. Beyond the day to day of caring for their children, they are fielding a world where compassion is evidently in short supply. Later that same night Yasmin was admitted to hospital for the first time since 2013 when she had undergone drastic brain surgery to try to reduce the seizures that she was experiencing up to 200 times a day. Colenso and her family were having one of the worst days of their lives when this woman felt the need to voice her dissatisfaction with being disturbed.

It was a shitty, shitty thing to do.

What I don't understand however is Colenso's decision to publicly shame her. To my mind, while this might scratch the angry-itch in the moment and deliver the validation that 100,000 people agreeing with you and railing against an enemy on your behalf might offer, it is to my mind arguably as toxic as telling a struggling family to "shut that child up."

"I hope social media helps for this post to find you to let you know that same little 8-year-old girl ended up being taken to hospital by ambulance that evening as she became seriously unwell. Maybe you managed to get a good night sleep?" she writes.

This trend for shaming and social media revenge is only breeding more negativity not 'highlighting issues' as the stated intent usually is. A snapshot of the comments proves this as the negativity flows in all directions. These posts open up a forum for generalised rage and bile where everyone becomes the victim of hate speak from the righteous shamer to the shamee to the child with autism as in the case with this thread of comments.

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Nicole Colenso is quoted on HuffPostUK as saying:
“I want people to think twice when they see someone in this situation. Not all disabilities are visible so they shouldn’t just presume.”

Clearly Colenso is a great mother and a good person. The behaviour of her fellow passenger shocked her and it hurt her and her family deeply, as it would any of us. However, I think she also needs to listen to this advice the next time she considers publicly posting a photograph to shame someone for their behaviour. Compassion breeds compassion. We all need to try and remember that everyone we meet is struggling. And as hard as it is to accept this, our struggle is no more important than the next person's struggle. As she says, not all difficulties are visible. We are all capable of being assh*les, and we are all capable of taking the high road, and Facebook, in my opinion, is not the high road.