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Opinion: Keyboard warriors should take a look at themselves, and why do we allow advertising to our children?

It’s not often that Fenland hits both national and international headlines – but one town certainly did it in style thanks to a simple twist of nature.

For reasons, that are frankly hard to fathom, the fact that the Christmas tree on March Market Place is ‘wonky’ inspired journalists from a range of media outlets to descend on the town – one journalist even swapped the horrors of Gaza for the town’s soggy streets to cover the story.

There was everyone from the BBC to America’s NBC all lining up to cover this ‘scoop’.

The March Christmas tree has been dubbed the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa' - but it's wonkiness has seen huge media attention.
The March Christmas tree has been dubbed the 'Leaning Tower of Pisa' - but it's wonkiness has seen huge media attention.

The tree and its tipsy stance certainly put March on the map and brought out record crowds for the annual Christmas lights switch-on.

So it did have a happy ending in terms of positivity for the town.

But prior to all the media furore there were a number of keyboard warriors who felt the need to take to social media sites and slag off the hardworking volunteers and in particular the town clerk, Sarah Lemmon, for daring to put up such an ‘embarrassing tree’.

Some of the comments made were quite frankly awful, and there was absolutely no excuse for them.

Those people who give up their time to help make March shine at Christmas time, do it for free. Sarah may be paid as the town clerk, but she puts in a lot of extra ‘leg work’ to ensure the switch-on goes smoothly.

And as she quite rightly challenged those trolls who felt the need to have a pop at her – if you think you can do better and feel so strongly then get off your keyboards and join the Christmas Lights Committee.

Everyone is welcome, and maybe then you might see that things can go awry even with the best of intentions – such as a Christmas tree that was ordered in good faith turning out to be ‘wonky’ because that is the way it has grown.

Too late when it is arrived for anything to be done, but at the same time the town does have a tree and lights – which is more than some towns and villages across the country can boast.

Obviously it turned out all right in the end, and most people have been very happy with the tree and the media coverage it has brought to March.

To repeat an all adage “there is no such thing as bad publicity” as the switch-on’s record turn-out proved.

There is another saying, which those keyboard warriors who bravely launched personal attacks from behind a screen, might like to take note of and that is ”if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.

It is easy to sit at home and make snide remarks, but maybe those people should consider how they would feel to receive such undeserved vitriol and maybe they might think twice about doing it again.

If you wouldn’t say what you are happy to type to someone’s face, then don’t do it via social media – it really is not OK…

While we are on the subject of Christmas and all things festive I would like to air my thoughts on advertising at this time of year – particularly on channels aimed specifically at children.

Parents and families are already under-pressure to come up with presents for their hopeful off-spring, putting one advert after another showing smiley kids playing with expensive toys does not help that situation.

Fast food ads have been banned because of concerns over children’s eating habits.

I personally would like to see toy adverts banned too – in fact in my opinion, it would be better if all advertising was banned from children’s channels.

Why on earth are we subjecting our children to advertising in the first place?

Surely these huge manufacturers make enough money without having to brainwash children who then badger their beleaguered parents.

My own grandchildren are a case in point. Watching telly with them is a prime example. I can see their eyes light up as some advert for a toy that up to that point they have had no interest in comes on.

Then it’s a case of ‘I want’ as they turn hopeful eyes on me and say ‘Father Christmas could bring that’ or ‘I could have that for my birthday’.

Of course they are not going to get everything they see on tele – and I think the four-year-old understands that – but nevertheless it does give me pause for thought that they are so easily influenced.

What impact these adverts have on children whose families are really struggling, in many cases just to put food on the table, I don’t know – it breaks my heart to think about it as they are bombarded with images of happy, privileged children and knowing for them it is simply fantasy.

So come on broadcasters and political decision-makers, take a look at what is being drip-fed to our children through advertising and maybe consider a total ban on adverts aimed specifically at children – it is not good that we are allowing conglomerates to manipulate their minds in this way...

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