I have documented the dangers of WhatsApp groups and social media in relation to bullying and mental health. I have only recently discussed these with HZ. I also resolved that Rob is a great guy and that I would stick by him in anything. At some subconscious level, I had a premonition that he might find himself in trouble and that I would need to back him up. Sadly, in this situation, I had the group on mute and only read the messages after it was too late. So I did not have the opportunity to stand by him.
[09:15, 03/06/2021] Anna: Do you even realize what you are saying?
The vultures swarm in. There is an element of ganging up, Herd Mentality. Lea implicates that Rob knows what he is saying, even though this might not necessarily be the case. Alternatively, what Rob is saying is actually different from how everyone else is interpreting it. There is a process whereby something that Rob says is taken out of context and conflated into something "racist" or "offensive". Rob was asking neutral questions.
[09:16, 03/06/2021] Rob: What am I saying?
By asking "what am I saying", Rob inadvertently invites an attack. He does not give himself a chance to justify or explain himself. The emphasis is on how everyone else interprets it, not what he means by his comments.
[09:16, 03/06/2021] Rob: What am I saying?
Notably, Yasmin attests that it "says a lot" but does not stipulate explicitly what she means by this. However, Lea steps in and summarises the implications. Although it is positive that Lea has qualified Yasmin's comment, there is still an element of teamwork / ganging up.
[09:17, 03/06/2021] Rob: Well I wouldn't be surprised if they were ethnic minority
Yasmin makes a snap judgement on Rob's mindset based on a few comments. She calls it "fucked". However, she does not know Rob and she has not explored the basis or rationale behind his comments.
[09:22, 03/06/2021] Lea: I think we all VERY patiently gave him a chance to explain himself… thanks for removing him
Did they? I cannot say that the reception was patient at all. It was hostile. Rob might have felt too intimidated to explain himself.
[09:36, 03/06/2021] Anna: It's always the same people
Is this a fact? Has Rob ever acted racist before?
[09:38, 03/06/2021] Chloe Edwards: If “what colour are they” are his first thought, that’s a Him issue, not on anyone else tbh
A typical "it is not you, it is the other person" narrative that I come across so frequently in LGBTQ environments. The deflection and projection opens up an unhealthy pointing fingers / blame style conversation. Also, Chloe Edwards instantly labels what Rob said as "racism" without pausing to consider the reasons behind what Rob has said.
[10:07, 03/06/2021] Bill: Well, I'm glad I didn't wake up early enough to have the chance to reply to that guy. Racist people are definitely one of my triggers
The word "triggers" has been adopted from a clinical context. Informally, it is frequently used as a stick to beat with i.e., justify how something that someone said into creating poor mental health. Bullying creates poor mental health. There is a "Chinese whispers" style effect where the comments that Rob made were misconstrued as "racism", which, in turn, criminalised Rob as a "trigger".
[10:31, 03/06/2021] Seyi: We don't need Pancho for drama anymore
Within this WhatsApp group, there is a culture for capitalising on "drama". Certain statements on a WhatsApp group can be taken out of context and cause offence. There is a "keyboard warriors" syndrome whereby people behave differently on social media to how they would in person. "Drama" ties into the herd mentality aspect in that people capitalise and maximise on something small that someone says. Words are taken out of context and conflated into something completely different via means of other people's projection. The herd mentality creates a social barrier that intimidates the victim of bullying and prevents them from clarifying or explaining themselves. An inhospitable environment that wears the mask of being "hospitable" in which people are not open or receptive enough to listen.
[10:53, 03/06/2021] Clai: On a scale of all the drama we have had. Pancho was a Saint. Great comedic value
I cannot say that Pancho said or did anything wrong. He stated his truth quietly and clearly. Since there were certain contradictions between his viewpoints and his actions, people capitalised on those contradictions. However, the important point is that Pancho acknowledged those contradictions. He was trying to set an example through his mistakes so that others might learn through them. He was passing on knowledge and insight. People did not have the ears to listen. They interpreted it as a reflection on him. They judged him critically. They interpreted Pancho's words and actions as "hypocrisy". I have tremendous respect and admiration for someone who can show such courage and vulnerability in their openness, in their awareness of being judged. As Jesus said, "let he without sin cast the first stone".
[10:45, 03/06/2021] R: Not defending what Rob said (as I am a person of colour) but I believe he mentioned that he is on the spectrum. I have some autistic friends and they sometimes say inappropriate things.
An interesting side-foray into ASD. Anna has labelled people with autism and put them in a box. R has rightly highlighted 2 points:
[11:07, 03/06/2021] Anna: Is this not what happened?
Not quite. I have no visibility over what Anna said privately to Rob so I cannot comment. I can only speculate.
[11:17, 03/06/2021] Lea: just to clarify with the admins, was there any bullying or unnecessary drama this morning? Each group has different 'bars' for what they consider bullying (and for some groups, even one of us mentioning the word 'racist' is out of line), so I just want to check nothing I or anyone else said was a problem (except for the racist comments, obviously)
Lea rightfully questions the terminology "bullying" and "racism". However, she subsequently undermines her qualification by using the word "obviously" in her labelling of Rob's comments as "racist". She is making a universal statement.
As for Anna:
There will be zero tolerance from this point forward to members who bully, cause drama or don't follow the key rules of the group - to be nice, supportive and respectful
[11:34, 03/06/2021] Sally: Thanks Anna and Jenny for keeping the space a safe place for us all 🥰 sounds like you’re v reasonable with allowing opportunity for learning or misunderstandings
Classic "inhospitable environment that wears the mask of being hospitable" statement. 👻 🎭
The WhatsApp group is not a safe place for Rob, me or anyone else to express their opinions and viewpoints. It regulates and suppresses freedom of speech and criminalises anyone who might step slightly outside the boundaries of what might be considered socially or politically acceptable. There is a culture of people taking offence at anything anyone says without fully exploring or understanding the reasons and rationale behind what is said. I am not assuming that what Rob said is correct but I do not feel that there was sufficient opportunity for him to clarify himself further because he was instantly criminalised, demonised and judged.
Reading this, there was no opportunity to clarify or establish what those misunderstandings were. Blocking culture is precisely what prevents this learning from happening.
In my view, there was nothing nice, supportive or respectful about the way in which Rob was confronted by the other members of the group.
At this point, I only caught up with these WhatsApp messages. So I missed out on the opportunity to defend Rob before he was removed. While I am not backing what he said, there was something that Chloe Edwards said which was out of order. I do not usually become involved in general discussion (I keep the WhatsApp group on mute, only catch up whenever I have a spare moment and use it purely for factual information, i.e., how we are meeting, where and when). However, I felt that I needed to interject and reprimand Chloe Edwards for the name calling.
[09:35, 03/06/2021] Chloe Edwards: What a dick
For over an hour, the WhatsApp group went quiet.
[11:45, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: That’s not nice
I was extra careful to not let my personal relationship with Rob bias my approach. Regardless of whether it was Rob, or anyone, calling someone a name behind their back is cowardice and mean. But no-one had asked for my opinion. There was a danger of me being removed from the WhatsApp group if it appeared (to others) that I might be defending "racism" (which I was not). Yet I felt that Chloe Edwards' response needed to be held to account. It was a tricky situation.
Fortunately, R stepped in and stated what I was thinking. Racism is not nice. But there is no need for name calling and bullying in this group.
Chloe Edwards attempted to justify her behaviour by highlighting that Rob was not present. This makes no difference. If anything, it is even more rude and disrespectful to slander / libel someone behind their back (which is effectively what she was doing). In front of 250 people. Would she say something like that to him directly?
Besides, is what Rob said anything worse than what Chloe Edwards said? Rob did not act mean, he did not call anyone a name, he did not brand any racial or ethnic group. If anything was offensive, it was made implicit (not explicit) by other people's response to it. So I do not understand how Chloe Edwards felt justified enough to equate what she said to what Rob said.
Worse still, Chloe Edwards tries to enforce "universal understanding" of the terms "dick" and "bigot". Her argument lacks grounds because it is attempting to objectify based on her own subjective understanding of those terms.
There is also the pre-disposition that Rob was acting "racist" as already discussed above.
[13:13, 03/06/2021] Anna: Guys let's move on please
An insistence on "moving on". Which only further prevents any learning or misunderstandings from being properly clarified and assessed. Clearly, the audience lacked cohesiveness / was too diverse in its opinions to bring about any semblance of order or rationality.
Notice how Chloe Edwards retreats and uses a heart emoji ( 🤎 ) to propagate a false toxic positivity after the venomous way in which she has spoken about Rob.
[08:36, 03/06/2021] Florent: That is terrible :/ I experienced an homophobic attack by two men about a year ago in Tottenham myself. Can’t believe it is still happening, especially in London
After saying "that's not nice" to Chloe Edwards, I immediately got in touch with Rob to check how he was feeling. It turns out that Rob is some kind of progressive genius. The whole debacle was merely a ploy to highlight the sensitivity of the and toxic positivity of the WhatsApp group. An overly socially / politically correct group that micro-regulates and suppresses freedom of speech and criminalises anyone whose viewpoints might be considered "inappropriate". A hostile environment in which the treatment of people expressing those viewpoints is more mercenary than the viewpoints themselves. Exactly what HZ & I were alluding to 2 days ago!
Interestingly, I seemed to be more upset about the situation than Rob.
[11:44, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Rob are you ok?? Tight hug 🤗😢
[12:48, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Who’s that?
[13:31, 03/06/2021] Rory Duffy: Lea seems to be juxtaposing political parties against perceptions of alleged “racism” and questions of acceptability 🤷♂️ 2 completely different discussions...oh I despair
A somewhat convoluted and multi-tasked exchange.
However, the key points are:
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have his reward.
332 Brixton Road
Samaritans, 24 hours, on 116123 or email:
I have been recommended to acknowledge and process all that I have been though, where it all started from how it has affected me.