Phill Thorne – Pontificates

Phill asks why some people don't seem to give any thought when posting inconsiderate and hurtful comments on social media

On Friday morning (26th April) , I took a photo and posted it up on a couple of local social media discussion pages. It was a poster on the front shutters of Debenhams in town stating they’d be opening late due to a colleague meeting. In my posts I stated that I hoped it wasn’t what we expected it to be, for the sake of the staff at the store.

Sadly, the worst kept secret was released a few minutes later that Debenhams had made the decision to close the Ashford store, along with 20 plus other stores (Canterbury and Folkestone amongst them).

What I felt was worse was the absolute urge by social media users to immediately replace Debenhams with Primark, to slate the town centre saying its not what it was, and to berate anything or anyone to do with Debenhams for making the decision. And then, worse still, by users of Facebook stating that actually it wasn’t that important and people should get over it!!!

The worse thing about 21st century users of social media is the simple lack of compassion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably as bad as anyone else with the rush to opine on the subject……what really should be the priority is the effect this will have on the staff, and the families of the staff.

It happened exactly the same when it was announced that Marks and Spencers in town was closing. The misguided attempt to set up a petition to keep it open was never going to succeed. Best part of 30 years ago, I did a week’s work experience at M&S in town, and to this day I think there are probably still a few staff there who were there back then. If you’re fortunate enough to have a secure job which keeps you happy and employed for three decades, when something like this happens, it really affects your life. Imagine starting there as a 16 year old in 1990, now you’d be 45, there was no internet, no jobsites, so maybe you’ve never had to look online for job, let alone not had an interview, so in this time where recruitment consultants primarily treat candidates as numbers and not people, you are very much at square one.

Then there is the emotional bond. If you’ve been working with people for a long period of time, all day every weekday for 30 years, you’ve probably become quite good friends, built strong bonds and relationships……those are gone and there’s nothing you can do about it. The regular income going and not knowing where its coming from is a worry, stress on relationships and marriages… one thinks about that for the poor folks losing their jobs when within 30 seconds , you have one person saying “Primark will take it” and another saying “Well I don’t know how Debenhams got the place in the first place” and a third saying “well, what do you expect, its too expensive. Realistically, what effect on any of those three can the folks losing their jobs in either store have on that!!

If you know someone who works at either place…..sympathise with them, don’t immediately tell them that another downmarket department store will take their site soon enough, its utterly uncompassionate.

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