Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there is a very good chance that you will have come across #MyTramExperience; the YouTube video clip featuring a woman traveling on a tram with her young son, hurling racial abuse at her fellow travellers in what appears to be an unprovoked attack.
It’s extremely sad that attacks like this still occur in what is meant to be a diverse society, and it goes without saying that the behaviour of the woman in question is absolutely disgusting. However, I must stress that this is not the purpose of this post and if that is the type of post that you want to read please feel free to click on any one of the following links; here, here and here. These posts focus more on the woman’s actions and they also raise some very interesting points.
My reason for writing this post is to focus on the ‘positive’ aspect of this particular incident. It’s easy to forget that without the power of modern technology and social media, there’s a very good chance that this woman’s tirade of racial abuse wouldn’t have received the widespread coverage at the speed at which it did. In this post I would like to share my personal account of how I witnessed the #MyTramExperience story explode into something phenomenal.
I first heard about #MyTramExperience on Monday morning when the clip was posted on Facebook by a friend of mine. I didn’t have the chance to view the clip at the time but the comments from those people who had, made it clear that this wasn’t just a storm in a tea cup. By the time I viewed the clip late in the afternoon; it was already trending on Twitter and had notched up just over 10,000 views on YouTube. Once I had viewed the full clip I expressed my disgust, like many people, and I made my views very clear on my personal Twitter account. I also tweeted a link to the clip in question and a number of my followers retweeted that very tweet to their followers.
The power of social media allowed hundreds of thousands of people to express their outrage and share the link of this video clip with other users on Twitter and Facebook, in the same way that I did. One of the most notable Twitter users to pick up on the #MyTramExperience was @PiersMorgan. With over 1.5 million followers and every tweet being retweeted by thousands of followers, it’s no surprise that it didn’t take long for news of this incident to spread like wildfire. However, he is only one example of a key influencer on Twitter who contributed to the widespread awareness of #MyTramExperience. At the time I viewed the video yesterday, at approximately 4.00pm, there had been over 124,000 views, and at the time of writing this post there had been over 3.4 million views.
By the evening the Twitter accounts for BBC News and London Tonight stated that the British Transport Police broke the news on their own Twitter page that they had ‘arrested a 34 year old woman for racially aggravated public order offence as a result of the #MyTramExperience video brought to their attention.’ This was such a positive outcome, and due to the huge amount of outrage the clip had caused online, I expected there to be some report of it on the BBC News Channel or Sky News Channel. However, I couldn’t find a thing! There was no mention of it whatsoever. Although the incident is now being widely reported on the websites of news outlets, I still haven’t seen it being reported by mainstream news channels on television, and I can’t understand why. According to The Drum; ‘authorities and media who were initially tipped off about the story, expressed little interest, until the video started trending.’
In my opinion, the British Transport Police deserve credit for acting so swiftly and for keeping people in the loop about exactly what action has been taken. However, I can’t help but question if anything would have come of this incident if there wasn’t such outrage of disgust by users on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
The role social media played in getting this woman arrested speaks for itself. Although my work involves me highlighting the power social media possesses in various business environments, I believe that #MyTramExperience is a great example to show social media non-believers how easy it is to share anything (whether it be news, videos or any other information), and how quickly things can snowball into something that almost everybody knows about. This ultimately leads to a result, which in this case was the woman in question being arrested and charged with a racially aggravated public order defence.
I’d love to hear your views on this post, your personal experience of how you found out about #MyTramExperience and if you think it would have been dealt with this quickly (if at all) if it wasn’t for the huge exposure it received thanks to social media.