During the holiday break, I got caught up in a spirited conversation about a bloke who I’d never heard of but who was apparently somewhat of a legend on social media.
The discussion involved a handful of older teenage males who believed this ‘truth whisperer’ was leading the renaissance of male masculinity. On the other side of the debate were two slightly older men who believed this guy spruiked dangerous nonsense.
I had nothing to contribute to the discussion because, to the disbelief of all involved, I had never heard of this chap, much less heard anything he had to say.
Andrew Tate is this bloke’s name, and his job title is ‘influencer’. Spookily, in the days after this pre-Christmas debate, his name was making headlines everywhere. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only parent frantically googling who he was and what was his modus operandi.
The reason he was in the news raised enough alarm bells already.
He was arrested in Romania on charges of forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women. Turns out he is also a confessed misogynist who also engages in hate speech and has been banned from all major social media platforms.
So not the sort of bloke you want your kids, especially your young boys, listening to. Except it appears they do. I spoke to a teacher who told me his year six students regularly talk about Andrew Tate.
Gobsmacked that all of this was happening without my knowledge, I made enquiries of young men I knew, and they all confirmed they were well aware of Andrew Tate and what he stood for. Some of them told me they didn’t believe everything he said, but he did make some good points about certain stuff.
I don’t admit to being the most switched-on dude around, but I read several newspapers and listen to many news bulletins daily. I feel somewhat concerned. I had no idea this bloke was so influential and was being watched by so many young people.
If this is an example of what our kids watch on social media and the internet, then we are in serious trouble. I have no idea how we monitor what they are soaking up, outside of looking over their shoulders. Good luck with that.
How can we provide counterarguments to what they are watching if we don’t know what they are absorbing? Can we even police this sort of stuff? As I said, most mainstream social media platforms had banned Tate, but his material was still out there. Let’s be honest, our kids are far more switched on than we are when it comes to social media.
In recent days violent protesters stormed Brazil’s parliament and supreme court buildings claiming the recent election, which saw the right-wing government Jair Bolsonaro kicked to the kerb, was rigged. Their source? Social media.
The Brazilian Government pleaded with social media platforms to take down material promoting these falsehoods and videos promoting violence. The pleas were largely ignored.
I know I sound like a grumpy old man railing against something I don’t understand, but I don’t like where we’re at and where we are heading.