by Rachael Hutchings
Halloween is rapidly approaching and at this time of year it is certainly not unusual to hear of all the spooky costumes people have lined up to take part in the festivities. However, this time around the spirit of fun, games and lighthearted practical jokes has been dampened by the international ‘creepy clown craze’ which is no laughing matter.
Originating in the US, this unsightly trend involves individuals dressing up in frightening clown masks and harassing or, more worryingly, attempting to chase or even hurt other people. Schools and other organisations, as well as parents, are in uproar as there is no way of knowing who is behind the costume and what their true intentions really are.
Typically of this media-saturated generation, many people are taking their worries, rants and experiences regarding this craze to social media to share with their friends. Whereas a large majority of people are anxious about the clown craze, as with every viral trend there are others whose concerns aren’t quite so genuine. This is recognisable, on my news feed at least, through people posting memes and sharing false news headlines to mock the entire concept. On top of this, South Wales Police have now issued an official statement warning people against scaring the public intentionally, following a peak in sightings being posted on Facebook.
For example, I have witnessed several groups on Facebook claiming that a clown has been spotted only minutes away from my father’s house, in a residential area, where a large amount of children live. To find this out conventionally through the police would be extremely worrying and I would encourage my family to be cautious. However, whether or not to believe these claims when they are coming from unknown sources across social media is where the confusion, and concern, really begins for a lot of people.
It is arguable that social media sites such as Facebook are becoming vital in the production of news, as it is often the first place many people get access to a story if they don’t regularly read newspapers or watch televised news. Not to mention, it is a positive platform for expression and sharing one’s thoughts, opinions and feelings with an infinite amount of people.
That said, the freedom of social networks such as Facebook allows users to generate any content, which leads us to question whether or not social media is the most reliable source when it comes to sharing information. Especially about an issue that causes so much scepticism and is as fundamentally dubious as this.