A filtered view

19 March 2021

Last month we were treated to the delightful absurdity of a Texas lawyer struggling with technology. For those who haven’t seen the viral video it is as silly as can be, and as such, hilarious. The legal proceedings were having to take place virtually and the judge and lawyers logged into a video call. Unfortunately for one of the lawyers, Rod Ponton, he appeared on screen as a cat. The judge politely suggested he might have a filter on, to which Rod groaned, then began fumbling with an explanation before giving up and uttering the immortal words, “I am prepared to go forward… I am not a cat.” The seriousness with which the line was delivered is truly impressive.

I suspect the others on the call did already know that he wasn’t a talking cat who had managed to master basic IT, but I suppose it is always best to be certain, after all, sometimes people are unaware that they are viewing information through a filter. This was  highlighted by the other video which went viral last month, that of the Handforth parish council meeting. This story saw Jackie Weaver thrust into the spotlight after removing the chairperson from the meeting. He had declared she had no authority there. The interesting thing about the reaction was that there seemed a lack of interest in whether she did indeed have authority or not. In an interview on BBC’s Woman’s Hour following the release of the video, Weaver herself admitted she didn’t know if she did – she didn’t actually know who was in charge! But to many people watching that didn’t seem to matter, perhaps because it wasn’t being judged on the rights and wrongs according to the rules, but viewed through a different filter – sexism. When judging Weaver as a woman standing up against men, particularly rude men, then it seems some people would consider her in the right regardless of her actions’ technical legitimacy. And whilst this may be understandable on some level, it should be recognised that the filter in place may or may not be representing reality.

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