The fine line between banter and disrespect

Today, a certain photo of a University of Malta academic went viral online. I think we all know what I am referring to here.  Last night, I was sent a photo of a man, writing something on a whiteboard, with his back turned to the rest of the lecture room. His face did not show. I was sent this photo by multiple people, with one of the versions being that his face was covered by a smiley emoji, very similar to what we have seen circulating on our Facebook feeds today. I myself, sent this photo to a group of my friends, finding it hilarious that something like this happened at University. When discussing it, although we sympathised with the man, we said that he really should be careful with what he leaves on his browser history. It was left at that.

Tonight, as I am scrolling on my Facebook feed, I see a post naming and shaming this lecturer, as well as mentioning his son, who is a political figure in the opposition. I will refrain to mention these names here, as I feel that it is absolutely disgusting to violate someone’s privacy like that. Furthermore, the person in question claimed that what she was doing was just banter. After this post garnered some attention and was subject to comments, mostly in utter disagreement and disgust to the headline, the post was subsequently deleted.

Okay. So let’s dissect everything that is wrong with the above. First off, can one please enlighten me on how anyone thought it would be a brilliant idea to make this a news article on certain news site, most importantly, for it to be posted to the news portal for the national broadcasting service. Let me teach you all about how banter (for lack of a better word) at the university works. It goes round student groups privately for a couple of hours, we have a few laughs, then it is forgotten in the morning. This is because most of us respect that something like this going public could potentially ruin someone’s image, therefore we keep this between us. Is this practice completely morally correct? Not in the slightest. Guilty as charged. But for news outlets to pick it up? Nice to know that this is the standard of journalism we’re upholding in this country.  Oh, and I won’t even delve into the fact that the image in question actually dates back to 2016.

My second point. At least the portals mentioned above were decent enough to respect the humanity and privacy of the individual pictured by making sure his face was totally covered and omitting his name, the subject he lectures, or any information which they may have acquired out of the articles ( again, for lack of a better word). That, my friends, is leaving it as a funny fluff piece. Banter if you will. That is a fine line that cannot be crossed. The defending argument put forward was that if the photo was made public, then it was a free for all and people are free to share it at their own will. Fair enough, but was his full name made public by any news outlets? No. Was his family tree made public? No. So, may I ask, why mention his name and link him to his son? Why compromise a mans security, dignity and state of mind after the day of saving face he’s probably already had? And lastly, and most importantly of all, why the need to get political? This being said, I am sure that if this happened to a family member of someone who is currently in government, there would have been a bumbling idiot who would have done the same thing, as this is how politics is talked about in this country, through slandering and name shaming family members online. Mudslinging of this type should never be accepted.

Thirdly – When you have an opinion, then stick to it and fight for what you believe in. Young adults need people among them to be fearless and spark debate. If you think that you were correct in posting such a headline, then do not then delete the post just because some of the comments were not to your liking. Fight it out. Have a healthy conversation with someone who disagrees with you. Learn from one another. If you in turn changed your mind about what was written, then that’s a good sign. Speak up and say so. Live and learn. This is why our members of parliament cannot get through a session without having a shouting match in the highest law making entity of our countries and sulking and pointing fingers like kindergarten students, as university students were described today on a post on The Salott. I am here to assure the public that we’re not kindergarten children, thank you very much, we know what we’re doing most of the time, we just still got a lot to learn.

The minute we destroy one’s dignity, we, as a nation, should realise that we have failed.

Julia Cini

My name is Julia, I am 20 years old and I’m a Third Year Law student. Some of my many talents include daydreaming, the capability to recite the entirety of Hamilton and spending the entirety of my earnings on flights. Passionate about helping others, equality, activism and the arts.

Julia Cini

My name is Julia, I am 20 years old and I’m a Third Year Law student. Some of my many talents include daydreaming, the capability to recite the entirety of Hamilton and spending the entirety of my earnings on flights. Passionate about helping others, equality, activism and the arts.