Jane Binnion column

Jane Binnion.
Jane Binnion.

I was doing so well with my first full week back at work for 2015.

Monday I was raring to go, then Tuesday I was knocked sideways by this virus that’s doing the rounds.

So I was in a bit of a semi-conscious state on Wednesday when I saw the news from two of my cartoonist friends on Facebook about the shootings in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Fuelled by a fever I was so angry.

I was born in ‘peace time’, I have never seen a world war, but throughout my life I’ve seen the evidence of people killing each other in the name of their religion.

I sat glued to the social media sites watching things develop with trepidation, dreading escalation and backlash.

What I actually saw was amazing.

All over social media people were using #CharlieHebdo and the slogan Je Suis Charlie to show solidarity.

Then I watched, and joined in, as people stated their intentions to ‘step up’ and make a difference by spreading kindness and giving their time to those who need it.

Something happened last week that made people realise this is nuts.

Killing motivated by religious hatred and superiority gets us exactly nowhere.

Just maybe we have given up waiting for politicians to ‘do something’ and have realised we have to make the changes ourselves.

This for me is social media at its very best.

Not promoting hatred, but enabling people from all walks of life to comment and share their thoughts and feel supported and united in doing their bit.

As I type, on Sunday, January 11, it is estimated that 2.5 million people, including 40 world leaders, are marching in Paris for tolerance and co-existence, and the images on Twitter are spectacular.

Of course many say that this is all about protecting our right to freedom of speech.

Social media has certainly given so many more people a voice, but do we have the freedom to say whatever we want?

With the Social Media Prosecution Guidelines set out by Crown Office last month and the many people who lose their jobs as a result of what they post online, I’d say the jury is still out on that.

Have a great week and stay safe online.