I know I said I wouldn’t do much topical stuff, as I’m not very good at ‘The News’. I’m really only interested in the politicians that are prioritising the further education and [un]employment issues of young people, and as that’s basically none of them, it makes things very simple for me. This story, however, had “oh, for fuck’s sake!” writtten all over it, so as the Handbook for the Overly-Opinionated Half-Hearted Hipster dictates, I thought I’d blog it out.
Paris Brown and I would never be BFFs, this much I know. She might be into the writings of Caitlin Moran and Grace Dent, girl singers with guitars, quirky little Anglo/Irish indie films and incredibly cerebral conversations about superpowers, but I’m not banking on it. (I sound almost quite cool when I describe myself like that; fear not, I also like Made in Chelsea and a dash of Paloma Faith – I’m not infallible.) But I’ve felt quite sorry for her over the last few days, as she’s been dragged into the merciless sights of the British media and been forced to justify daring to behave like a teenager. A stupid one, yes, but good grief, when’s the last time you saw a teenager and thought, “how wonderfully wise and well-informed you are”?
I believe I’m right in thinking it was the Daily Mail or the Mail on Sunday that started this shitstorm-in-a-teacup. If various current affairs blogs are to be believed, a journalist at the Mail on Sunday invited Brown to an interview and used that as an “in” to write a piece detailing her Twitter activities. And sure, she’s said a number of things on there that are at best unwise and at worst offensive. And being young does not completely excuse her. But, aged 14-17, it is sometimes hard to see that a lot of what you say and do at this time will affect you later on. It’s also a bit of a bitch that when you are a teenager – at an age where you should be free to be a little reckless and experimental – you are asked to make decisions that you’re told will affect the rest of your life. There is also evidence to suggest that as well as all the physical shit you go through during your teen years, your brain goes through a bit of a re-wire too. But you’re going to have to Google that one, as I can assure you, I am no scientist. In short, I don’t think it’s too much to suggest that a little bit of slack should be cut. A smidgeon of consideration should be had. I don’t even think she put herself up for the job of Youth Crime Commissioner; I think someone suggested it to her.
The point is, judging by this girl’s tweets – and indeed, her eyebrows – she doesn’t seem like the brightest badge on the cardigan. I also find it hard to believe there are no other smart young people with an interest in youth crime (and a little more internet savvy) in Kent who would qualify for the job, but that’s a complete aside. However (and it’s a massive “however”), it just seems odd – no, ridiculous, actually – that a young woman is hounded out of a job because of things she wrote on one social-networking site long before she actually took up said post. And really, if we’re going to start chasing people out of jobs because of things dredged up by the Daily Mail, then God help us. We’re all fucked. There’s also some irony in the Daily Mail getting outraged about a teenager’s allegedly “racist” comments. Really, DM? Really?
There’s no doubt that people should be careful about what they say online, because it can and will be held against you, should the circumstances arise. But that’s just basic manners – you should be careful what you say in life. And not everyone has good manners 100% of the time. We wouldn’t be human if we did. The internet is a brilliant, buzzing thing – but it’s also a record of our stupidity. Once you write something on the internet, it’s there permanently and it’s find-able. I would cringe so hard I’d headbutt my desk if presented with my Facebook statuses aged 17-19. Hell, let me loose on red wine and then Twitter and it’s a similar story now. Even here, on this little blog that averages maybe tens of hits, as opposed to hundreds or thousands, I have to rein it in sometimes, and remind myself that when I hit “publish”, what I’ve said is out there for good, contributing to whatever idea of “me” any readers might have. I’ve had one particular post in drafts for months now which details the rather dramatic and upsetting demise of a friendship, but I’m not sure when, or even if, I am going to make it public. I don’t mention names in it, and nor would I, but because I wrote it when the situation was fresh in my head and I was really bloody mad, it’s a heartfelt piece of writing that I’m actually quite proud of (it’s amazing how concise I am when I’m angry). I don’t know if that post will ever see the light of day, because the last thing I want is to re-hash things from which people have now moved on.
The sad thing is, by Miss Brown deciding not to continue in her role as youth crime commissioner, she’s unwittingly handed the Press – or a certain sector of it – more ammunition. They’ll rub their hands with glee, and say that young people have no staying power or resilience, and that they knew it was a stupid idea anyway, giving teenagers adult responsibilities. I wish she’d decided to weather the storm, tough though that would have been, and then gone on to throw herself into that job, and make the role a worthwhile and valuable one. That would have made them eat their words.
On the subject of teenagers, have something gloriously bratty with a sing-along chorus. It’s been getting me through my commute this week.
I am obsessed with this band at the moment – largely because I saw them live last week, and they were brilliant. Like the other song here, the chorus of this song is nothing short of glorious.