Feeding the trolls – a good idea?

Last month Facebook has announced that they currently have more than 1 BILION users. I see social media at this point as something that has got completely out of control and which is now impossible to monitor. Everything has advantages and disadvantages in this life and alongside those mammoth pluses social media brings to us, like practicing liberty of speech, fast traffic of information or global communicating and networking, there are also minuses and one of them is trolling.

The most obvious and most publicized trolling cases are those that are connected with public figures. In my view the fact that celebrities are trolled is just something that comes along with the fame and as long as they put themselves out there this risk is fairly logical. Nobody can please everybody; it is as simple as that. And yes, they receive comments and messages that are offensive and full of hate or envy but I consider that they should just be ignored or blocked/spammed. Sometimes celebrities receive death threats, especially if they seem based on real information, an extra safety measure is more than enough. But celebrity trolling is just something that happens on a daily basis.

One more thing that is fairly known about trolls is the fact they seek attention. I see this as another reason to just ignore them. And when it comes to EXTREME cases, when trolling has suicidal consequences, more factors come into place. Going back to Ruxandra’s example, where were Megan Meier’s parents? What exactly could the police have done when her reputation was already damaged? Even when they caught her troll, Drew, she was not even convicted.  So there you go!

Most trolling cases are based identity theft, therefore the only thing social media can do is to make more secure creation of accounts, which is fairly complicated already, but I see monitoring as a mission impossible. Here is a funny preview of how easy it is to access your true identity through Facebook! http://www.takethislollipop.com/ 

What do you think?

by Diana

Social media becoming UNsocial: Trolling

How many of you are aware of the term “trolling”? The “digitalisation” era has brought, together with its innovations, a couple of drawbacks. And one of them is internet trolls: “an abusive or obnoxious user who uses shock value to promote arguments and disharmony in online communities”. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children’s tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, mysogyny, or just simple squabbling between others. Trolls are everywhere (blog sites, game chats, news sites, forums) as they enjoy being seen and receiving attention.

In most of the cases, trolls enjoy making fun of or judging other people, as the computer screen protects their identity and they always remain virtually untouchable. I truly believe that the best approach to trolls is ignoring them and just pressing the “spam” button; but what happens when their online activity put other people’s lives in danger?

Trolling is part of an international phenomenon that includes cyber bullying. One of the first cases took place in the US state of Missouri in 2006, when 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide after being bullied online. The bully, Lori Drew, was a middle-aged neighbour who had set up a MySpace account to win – and later betray – her trust. Drew was acquitted of unauthorised computer use in 2009 due to concerns that a conviction would criminalise false online identities.

So, my question to you is: who should be responsible for tackling bullying? Is it the Police or the social networking sites where all these comments are posted? Considering the fact that there are cases when people lose their lives because of trolling, the phenomenon should become a criminal offence in its own right and at present, the arrest category of “internet trolling” does not exist.

The Communications Act 2003, which governs the internet, email, mobile phone calls and text messaging is sometimes used to catch the worst serial offenders. Under section 127 of the Act, it is an offence to send messages that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” whether those targeted receive the message or not. But police seem reluctant to implement the Act and only two people were jailed for trolling last year.

From my perspective, Police and the social networking sites should work together, as online anonymity is quite difficult to handle. Police should have the power to force internet providers to hand over the details of trolls and Facebook and Twitter should be made to take down any troll comments.

Current research shows that 1 in 3 people are bullied online. I strongly believe that we should start finding solutions and addressing this problem. What do you think it would work? Online moderators? Better social media policies? New laws?

Tell us your view.

Ruxandra

Medical Benefits of Drugs

Yes Yes Yes Ruxandra…Completely agree! Let’s not forget about the medical benefits of such drugs. I don’t intend to make you confused with so many medical terms but here you have a list with medical benefits of such drugs:

Cannabis has been used in ancient times as an aid in childbirth and now is mostly used in palliative care, preventing patients from suffering.

Cocaine is documented in medicine since the 16th century and its use is restricted as an anesthetic and as a vasoconstriction agent.
GHB is used in the treatment of narcolepsy.
Heroine was introduce 1874 as an alternative to morphine and is now used as a painkiller under the name of Diamorphine, in very controlled situations.
Amphetamines are used as a drug to increase focus.
Methamphetamines are and FDA approved drug used in treating ADHD and exogenous obesity.

LSD is apparently good in psychiatric treatment and psychotherapy.
Barbiturates are efficient in the treatment for anxiety, insomnia and seizures.
Ketamine is good as a sedative.
Ecstasy was used in the 1970’s to treat patients with psychological problems.

Let’s not forget that there could be many more, but the fact that they are illegal, makes it so much harder for researchers to discover more. And yes, there are receipts for patients that are in need for Marijuana for example, because they are in pain. The fact is that not many doctors are comfortable prescribing illegal drugs and in UK you can’t even have that.

In my view why would governments interfere in people’s right to do whatever they want? As long as the use of such drugs are strictly regulated, and to defend Oana’s point more or less, as long as they do not affect people surrounding them, except themselves, the use of drugs should be OK. If you want to harm yourself, it is your right. What about cultures that define themselves through the use of drugs? Moreover I consider that it would probably stop border violence and as Ruxi proved, making drugs legal does not necessarily mean usage increase.

Here you have a video regarding official medical institutions acknowledging the medical benefits of Cannabis:  

So…What do you think? 

by Diana

Drug legalisation

 

Did you know that alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined? Are you aware of the fact that in The Netherlands, where cannabis laws are far less harsh, drug usage is amongst the lowest in Europe?

From my perspective, drugs should certainly be legalised. Why? Well, to start with, we all know that prohibition does not work. Telling a person ‘it’s illegal to do this’ will only generate more curiosity and the adrenaline generated by ‘breaking the rules’ will always be more powerful.

Secondly, most of the violence associated with drug dealing is caused by its illegality, so legalising drugs would help regulate the market, reduce prices and, at the same time, it would decrease the criminality rate, as some dependent users resort to stealing to raise funds.

Furthermore, drugs are perceived as a taboo in our society, mainly because they are illegal, surrounded by myths and lies. People need transparency and more honest information. Legalising drugs would certainly raise awareness of their risks and positive effects, so when choosing to consume drugs or not, each individual would make its own, fully informed choice.

Lastly, regarding Oana’s perspective, I strongly believe that the problem of people consuming drugs in the streets and negatively affecting the non-users could certainly be solved by regulations! You see drunk people in the street every day… should alcohol become illegal? The impact on non-users is certainly not a strong enough reason to be against drugs legalisation, when there are so many pros. And The Netherlands case is the most convincing one: drug usage decreased after legalisation!

Check out Yaron Brook’s view on drugs legalisation: 

What do you think? Should drugs be legalised or not?

By Ruxandra

Drug use and abuse. A victimless harm?

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“Cognitive liberty as the right of each individual to think independently and autonomously, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought.”

(CCLE – Centre for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics)

The concept of choice is an example of Cognitive Liberty and is often used by those who support the legalization of drugs. They state that ‘the capabilities of the human mind should not be limited as long as the person is not directly harming others’.

Authors such as Aldous Huxley and Terence McKenna agree that what persons do in private should not be regulated by the government. This view is also strongly supported by CognitiveLiberty.co.uk which affirms: “To believe in cognitive liberty is to believe that the individual is absolute sovereign over their own consciousness. It is an extension of the concepts of freedom of thought and self-ownership.”

It is argued that persons should be free to do what they want with their bodies, including the use of drugs, as long as they do not harm others. Such arguments are often based on the harm principle of philosopher John Stuart Mill who urged that ‘the state had no right to intervene to prevent individuals from doing something that harmed them, if no harm was done to the rest of society’.

But I wonder…is this really a victimless crime?

Portugal is the first European Country in which in 2001, criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine have been officially abolished.

I have visited Portugal in the summer of 2010 and I was not aware of any of this issues. Lisbon is a splendid city, but I constantly had the feeling of being in some sort of dirty and dangerous place. I saw more than once people lying at the corner of streets, people doing drugs or being under effects of drugs. It happened to go in the pub under our hostel and find a man with a needle in his arm. I let you imagine how the picture must be.

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I do not state of being pro or cons the legalization of drugs. Yes, I do agree that people should be free to take their own decision especially when regarding their body and minds. But I wonder. Is it really as J. S. Mill affirms…that people are free to harm themselves as long as they do not harm the society? But living in a street, city, country, in which people are free to use drugs as they want…that harms the society indeed.

Where is the limit between somebody’s freedom to use drugs and somebody else’s freedom to decide not that he doesn’t to see, know, or be involved in any case in that situation? Where is the limit between you, being free to have drugs at the corner of the street, and me being free to walk on the same street and not wanting to see this unpleasant scene?

Oana.

When in Rome do as Romans do


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What is the difference between individuality and adaptability? And most importantly how and which one affect more the society? Have you ever heard situations in which tourists have been beaten or casted off a particular territory because they were not adapting to the places they were visiting? I’m talking about customs, clothing, speech, body language and so on…

I always thought that when YOU choose to visit a culture YOU should adapt to it. You are trespassing.  Nobody asked you to go there and nobody asked you to bring your culture with you. Don’t change who you are, or your culture but don’t offend others’ as well. As a main example I always had in my mind: when you’re visiting someone’s house if the hosts’ rule is to take off your shoes…do you? If you want to visit and enjoy your stay…you better.

There are lots of examples when we’re talking about intercultural communication. It can easily be referred to the business environment as well. How many meetings and how many deals gone wrong existed in this world just because of intercultural miscommunication?A practical and simple example: Americans vs. Chinese. Businesses have to be heavily aware who are they targeting they’re messages and what means of communications they use. Adapt…Nobody is saying to wear a burka when you’re going in a Muslim country but it would be completely inappropriate to have a short skirt and a deep cleavage. Same applied to businesses. Communication must be kept in the middle and one culture as well as the other must comply in order to communicate effectively and avoid discrepancies.

Talking about body language and signs a main example is the simple western OK sign. In many other countries around the world it means a totally different thing. For example in France it means ‘a big fat zero’ whereas in Turkey it means ‘you’re gay!’. It is as simple as getting bothered to know just a bit the culture you’re walking into and respect it.  Adapt!

But again, there is another side to the story as well. What about people of various cultures living surrounded by opposite cultures with opposite customs, then what? Did you know that France banned the use of burqas in 2010 on the suposstion that it hides the identity and that France stands for the equality between men and women? Now women are finned or under how arrest if expressing their culture.

It is a simple fact of globalisation. Why everybody has to be the same? Aren’t we proud of diversity? True, a middle avenue would be OK, but it is never about changing a culture and migrating to another. It is all about geography. Different families with a particular culture choose to move in a country in which they will be part of the minority…fine. Where is the problem? They will adapt. They will stop expecting people around them to be dressed as they are used to, they will socialise and change their behaviour and way of life; but it is never a matter of changing values, beliefs, traditions or all in all…the culture.

This is a scene from Sex and the City 2 which displays (in an amusing manner) discrepancies between two cultures:

Am I right? 

by Diana

Women vs Positive Discrimination

Do you think that women need positive discrimination to reach top positions?

In 2008, the Norwegian Government introduced a law which enforced that 40% of directors in any company must be female. The initiator of the idea argued that diversity creates wealth, the country could not afford to ignore female talent and also, Norway had a low employment rate. The owner of a Norwegian bank was accused of breaking the law by failing to appoint women to 40% of the directorship positions. He explained: “I work in a man’s world. I don’t come across many women and that’s the challenge”.

I would argue that in all cases, candidates should be given a job based on their knowledge and skills. To make this work, the best approach would be to hire a group of experts that would be responsible for the recruitment process, and not the company itself.

 There are situations in which this approach might not solve the problem, as in industries such as gas, technology and oil, women have no experience and less interest. Involving women in these business areas can only be achieved over a long period of time. Free training  discussions, internships, and several industry insights would be likely to encourage women to apply for these positions.

Another important area of discussion is whether women are not confident enough to apply for top positions, or whether they actually apply but do not get the job due to women stereotypes (no leadership skills, lack of experience, more family orientated). The answer to this dilemma could be somewhere in the middle of these extremes: some women have different values, they place family on top of their priority list and a directorship position would take up too much time. On the other hand, there are cases where men prefer to employ other men and this might happen because of stereotyping: men are better leaders and managers; they are more confident and straightforward, less emotional, etc.

Going back to the Norwegian law, why only 40% of directors should be female? Why not 50%? When enforcing a law that should increase the number of female directors, why not make it equal with the number of male directors? Men and women have different skills and values. Consequently, mixed boards could only benefit companies. A combination of male and female characteristics could only lead to different approaches on managing issues.

 To conclude, positively discriminating women is not the best approach as this may lead to further discrimination: women need to feel confident that they got a job because they deserved it, not because of their gender. As far as I am concerned, in no cases would a woman comply with the situation of being seen as an outcast that does not deserve to be there by her male counterparts.

Find out more about positive discrimination from Jackie Brambles’s perspective : 

What’s your view? Can you think of any solutions that would increase the number of women in directorship positions, without raising the problem of male discrimination?

By Ruxandra