Aug 022011
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Today’s Tip: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Last week Mia Freedman was on the Today show and was asked about Cadel Evans. She expressed her opinion that sports people aren’t heroes. That’s fine, she is entitled to her opinion, however what she didn’t anticipate and what I’m sure nobody could have anticipated is not that a large portion of Australians disagreed, anyone would have thought that, but the amount of abuse she would receive for expressing this opinion. A lot of it neither well constructed nor impartial, and with a large amount just downright mean.

I have also noticed on a few people’s facebook pages how often they are publicly humiliated for expressing their opinion. Which can quite frequently be hidden in the guise of a “joke” by the addition of the term “LOL” at the end, or pretending to be nice with a smiley face. This is not OK and is one of the great dangers of social networking and, indeed, the internet in general.

So today I’d like to remind everyone of a very simple saying: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Sometimes it is important to correct someone, especially if they are going around touting something as fact which isn’t. Most of the time it isn’t required. If you are going to, all I ask is that it is done in a civil, polite and respectful manner. There is no reason to get personal, there is no reason to insult and there is no reason to be mean. No excuse. Sometimes I need reminding of this just as much as the next person. So, again, for the cheap seats in the back: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.


If you have the time or inclination you can read Mia’s stance on sports people, watch her appearance on the Today show, and view the barrage of abuse here.


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  • Linzi

    One of my pet hates about social media – more specifically anonymous commenting on blogs and websites – is that people feel more comfortable to unleash a barrage of insults upon the writer or other commenters safely behind the protection of a pseudonym. If you wouldn’t say it publicly, don’t say it.

    Mia Freedman does not have to like Cadel just because I do. Unfortunately her comments were a result of being put on the spot to give an opinion on something she knew absolutely nothing about – not her fault, just the logistics of that ‘What’s Making News’ segment on the Today show. She looked silly, yes, and even international media were scratching their heads over her comments, but she did not deserve the abuse that continued for days afterward. She really didn’t. It’s a shame it happened because it turned into a bit of headline stealing, albeit unintentionally, that tainted an amazing moment in Australia’s sporting history.

    That said, the Mamamia website suffers from a poor “commenting culture” despite Mia’s commenting etiquette guidelines. I think this is a result of her own tone in the way she writes (cynical, blaze, brash), as when you compare her site to that of Sarah Wilson (they both write for the same media channels, but have incredibly different writing styles) you won’t find the hateful/vulgar/disrespectful comments to the same degree.

    • Miss T

      A big difference with MamaMia and Sarah Wilson’s site is that MM intends to tackle the difficult (read: controversial) issues and encourages debate. Sarah Wilson has a much more calm, relaxed and non-controversial style which doesn’t really allow for people to get all fired up. I think MM intends to fire people up.

      I completely agree about the “anonymous” thing. People get so mean when they can hide behind their computer screen.

      That rhymed, I liked it.

      xo T.