There’s no better entertainment for bored expats than a good witch hunt. Combine a lifetime full of not doing much really useful with access to social media and the misinformation it provides and you can guarantee mob rule will prevail.
Just lately Elle wrote a piece about a dispute between a kennels and a local lady. Now, I’m not taking sides here, though I should in fairness say I have seen hard evidence to support the case of one side, and none from the other apart from hearsay and unsubstantiated gossip on Facebook. I’m not voicing any opinion as, as it should be, right and wrong will be decided in the upcoming court case.
It may be a case of misunderstanding; it may be six of one half a dozen of the other. Whatever it is, it got out of hand thanks to social media. What should have been a small dispute between two parties turned into a total Facebook sh*t storm.
There are two sides to every story and Elle told them both as she heard it.
However, this article isn’t about who’s right or wrong in this instance, it’s about my disappointment at people who (if behaviours conveyed to me personally are true);
- Dive head first into a campaign on the strength of Facebook posts
- Seem determined to destroy a small business and in doing so other peoples lives
- Who make threats
- Who harass by phone
- Who paint graffiti over someone else’s property (dropping the C bomb in the process), very adult!
- Who claim to be animal lovers and think it’s okay to disturb other people’s animals in the care of the kennels with car horns and the like
It is shameful behaviour. All started by a bit of gossip on Facebook.
As emotive as the story of the little old lady with the ‘kidnapped’ dog and dead cat is, it turns out the dog was released to her when someone else paid the bill.
As I mentioned earlier in this piece, it’s not for me to say or decide on this case. That will be settled in court as any serious issue should be. Trial by Facebook is both puerile and wrong.
Expat land is rife with these sorts of stories. Only recently we heard of someone claiming a homophobic attack took place back in our old home of Lanzarote. Naturally, all the locals were up in arms. Until it turns out a few days later, he was simply drunk, caused a fight, and subsequently lost. That’s not a homophobic attack, that’s a sore loser trying to stir up a hornets nest.
We’ve been targets over the years as well. Mostly comical to us as we’re pretty thick skinned and lets face it not shy about a good scrap in public. It’s ranged from silly little businesses trying to discredit us one way or another, through to being described as ‘swingers’ (we most definitely are not just for the record. Sorry ladies, you’ll just have to wait until Elle eventually divorces me), and more recently some rather silly gossip accusing us of gossiping (spot the irony) aimed at baiting someone else into fighting a battle with us that the originator knew they’d lose.
Then there’s the other side of this phenomenon, expats closing ranks. Some months ago we saw “it” hit the proverbial fan on a forum (and Facebook) down the road from us near Mojácar… It emerged one of the locals there was a convicted sex offender. Yet, I guess Lance Thomson might seem like a ‘nice bloke down the local’, and many of the people in the area gathered round in support in complete denial of his guilt as reported in a local paper the Lancashire Evening Post under the headline Shamed police officer jailed for child porn. He can also be found on ‘The Register’.
One of our bog standard pieces of advice to wannabe expats is keep yourself to yourself, mind your own business, and trust nobody at face value, take your time and allow people to earn that trust. Expatsville is a microcosm and all it takes is a few chosen poisonous words from someone with an agenda to create a nuclear incident. Being full of gullible people not willing or able to check out any actual facts, Facebook is the perfect means of delivery!
Watch your back, be ready, they are lurking and waiting even when you think they are not… And remember, what they don’t know, they’ll make up so be ready for that too.