repercussions online

Today, a feminist confronted a troll posting sexually violent abuse. The consequence issued by Facebook was to have her banished for a period of time. Have you noticed that people as a nation are making use of the word “banish”, as a national trend.

Clem’s situation reminded me of my situation a couple of weeks ago. An English girl went to Mt Kinabalu in Malaysia, a mountain considered sacred by locals; as part of her touristy scamperings she had a photo taken of herself sans bra. This resulted in her being banished from the island and a feverish online debate.

A fellow Englishman wrote abusing the decision of the Malaysian police, especially the belief that that the girl’s disrespectful action had angered the spirits of the mountain and caused an earthquake. His reaction was to jeer at such an interpretation. He felt that such behaviour by the authorities would damage the tourist industry.

My reading of his post was that he patronised Malaysian culture. As a refugee from central Europe to Australia post WW2, I am very conversant with colonial English culture. Both English and Australian tourists have the reputation of being unwilling to learn local languages and customs when they travel. I remarked that colonial English people create a bubble of their own culture, coloured with superiority when they move abroad.

After all, it was patronising of an Englishman to make judgements about Malaysian superstition; the first world has its own version of unreasonable beliefs, for instance Hollywood movies about extra-terrestrials.

Next day, I was surprised to find that I no longer had any contact with the story; I presume that the writer to whom I replied had my involvement banished; I am intrigued that bringing to a writer’s attention his or her cultural boorishness should be so actionable.

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About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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