The first episode of ’16 Kids and Counting’ aired last night and you would think that the one thing I would have learned after last year was to stay away from Twitter. Quite like the mosquito in the film ‘A Bug’s Life’, I couldn’t resist the lure of the 16KidsandCounting hashtag.
As suspected, the complete and utter ignorance and hatred spewing from some commenters was quite appalling. Why, in this day and age of electronic footprints leaving trails of your thoughts for years to come, do some people still not think before typing or tweeting?
It makes me laugh when social media users too young to have even left school begin making comments on their taxes paying for large families. The resistance needed to prevent myself from pointing out that a) they are too young to be working in order to be contributing taxes of which they speak , b) surely they should go back to discussing Justin Bieber’s timekeeping skills and c) for goodness sakes learn to spell properly – bad spelling and grammar impresses no-one.
But the vitriol aimed by grown adults at the Salim family was awful.
Dad of the family Mohammed hasn’t worked since the family had nine children. He seems to be an intelligent man and we were not told the full facts on why he isn’t working. The programme did, however, touch on the impact it had on his family with one son speaking of the abuse he gets from others. The one part which truly did touch me was mum Noreen’s appeal to Mohammed: ‘I’m suffering with you… God gave you hands and feet… ‘. She spoke of her shame.
Didn’t these people see how heartbroken, how despondent, how desperately sad this plea for her husband to find work was? Yet still, the insults kept coming… on her appearance or her accent, on the house or the children.
Don’t they see these are real people with real feelings? Don’t they realise that this family might be a different colour but they are still British? Did they not hear the eloquence of the older children, who struck me as being very intelligent and showing potential of being productive members of society, despite – or even perhaps in spite of – their father’s actions.
My heart went out to Noreen and I really do hope Mohammed takes heed of his wife’s wish.
Were life to turn on a sixpence for us, how would we feel about having to swallow our pride and turn to the state to support us all – even for the shortest time? I couldn’t help but think ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’
No, the unemployment benefits system shouldn’t be a lifestyle choice. We are incredibly lucky to have it as a safety net. I don’t think anyone wants to see a return to the workhouses, do they?
It can’t be ignored that some people do take advantage of it but this has nothing whatsoever to do with race or religion or even how houseproud someone is.
How many of us know of people who are single and without dependents who choose not to work and have the most inane reasons? Or know of people who are capable of drinking and partying the night away yet still claim they are unable to work?
By all means, be unhappy and demand change. But vilifying individuals like Noreen or the Salim children for a broken system is not the way to change things – nobody but them know the feelings they have to deal with themselves. Go and direct your anger at those who have the power to change the system instead so that those taking advantage of it can do so no longer, and to revert it to the short-term safety net it was originally intended to be.