“On that bombshell” – Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension and social media’s overdrive

The fact that Jeremy Clarkson has been suspended from the BBC has come as a surprise to most people.

While the Top Gear presenter has previously come close to it on allegations of non-PC comments, I don’t think anyone really expected his time with the BBC to come to an end for what it described as a “fracas”, did they?

But it seemingly has. And judging by the comments in Clarkson’s column in last Saturday’s copy of The Sun, he won’t be returning to Top Gear.

Whether you love Clarkson or hate him, it still seems strange to not have the choice of being able to watch three middle-aged men fall over and set fire to things on a Sunday night.

Then there’s the fact that 1) the BBC lost almost 4-million viewers as a result of not broadcasting the show last Sunday and 2) Top Gear brings over £50m a year to the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Irrespective of viewing figures and money, the amount of traction the incident has gained online is astonishing and it all seems a bit silly.

Firstly, there seem to be two camps among People of the Internet about the whole incident – ’Camp Clarkson’ or ‘Camp Good Riddance To Clarkson’.

Secondly, there is the hashtag of #BringBackClarkson. Within 24-hours of Clarkson’s suspension on March 10th, this had been tweeted over 40,000 times.

Let me just put that into context for you – this is a very wealthy (albeit very popular) man who has his own hashtag because he lamped someone and got suspended from work.

There was a hashtag, #JeSuisCharlie, for the 11 poor souls who were gunned down in the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

Someone has even gone as far to create the #IAmClarkson hashtag…

Just think about that…

In the Charlie Hebdo killings, 11 people lost their lives for defending the right to free speech. One man has been suspended over a rumpus about a steak.

Both parties are receiving comparable treatment by People of the Internet.

And then there’s the Bring Back Clarkson petition on change.org. At the time of writing, this has received 950,406 signatures* since it was set up on the date of the suspension.

That’s 49,594 from 1m. That also makes it the highest trending petition on the site at present.

At this point I was going to offer more stats, but that would just give more ‘column inches’ to something that’s been vastly blown out of proportion online.

Let’s, then, put things into perspective and take a look at who and what Clarkson is outranking on change.org.

• The petition to pardon of 49,000 men like Alan Turing who were convicted for same-sex relations (signatures: 605,000 signatures – formed: 9/2/2015)

• The petition to the government against George Osborne’s tampon tax (signatures: 207,007 – formed: 18/5/2015)

• The petition to Boris Johnson to put homes before profit (signatures: 131,090 – formed: 23/12/2014)

Just think about that. This is one man who’s been told off for being a naughty boy and has probably lost his job, but he’s outranking movements, which affect equality, the country and possibly the outcome of an election.

People of the Internet, we are treating him with the same reverence as those who have been persecuted, those whose lives will be affected by government decisions and ultimately, those who have lost their lives.

It’s all a bit silly, isn’t it? Maybe we should properly consider what we hashtag and petition for the in the future, eh?

Just a thought…

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