Ashley Cole, Freedom and the Dangers of Twitter

Twitter is a phenomenon, we are told it played a role in the Arab Spring, the demonstrations in Iran and other global events. Everyone from Mandela to Boris Johnson tweets. It seems that authoritarians around the world would like to suppress it.

The counter argument says that anything that gives us more “freedom” must be good.  Hence the “freedom” of the market  and look where that has led in recent years. Freedom without constraint is like tennis without tram lines or football without a 10 yard box.  Without some form of boundary making and agreed rules all human activity would become chaotic.

This process of negotiation and testing of rules and laws, the “social contract” has been a feature of democracy for hundreds of years. Underlying is the sense that we have a shared existence and that one person’s untrammelled freedom can take away that of another.

On Twitter every now and then we see the consequence of unrestrained freedom. We see Ashley Cole follow a long line of professional sports people who – in anger – have tweeted their immediate response to an even without time for self reflection. This has consequences for him, his team , the FA and all of us.

In this way technology allows us to expose the inner workings of our psyche and to dump our anger on the world in a way that has never before been available.

I advise my clients with angry thoughts,and feelings, contemplating angry behaviours to STOP, and to look at the big picture. The old cliché goes “act in haste repent at leisure”. This is often – though not always – true. The anger response is a survival response in which our defensive mechanisms and the most primitive parts of our brain and our traumatic historic memories are triggered.

Often in our anger we seek to justify, to blame and to hurt. This often leads to regret, shame and more anger.

I am not arguing against Twitter or against spontaneity. Without the latter we would have a lot less art, music and beauty in the world. But angry behaviour always has consequences, for ourselves and for others. Before you act STOP, if necessary get out of the battle zone. The only thing you find there are dead  bodies.

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