Free Press opinion: Why do people in Doncaster moan about absolutely everything?

It has been a pretty momentous week for Doncaster.

By Darren Burke
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 3:49 pm

First we had the historic announcement that Doncaster had been granted city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

And then the mighty American rock band The Killers brought a tremendous buzz to our newly formed city by playing in front of 25,000 fans at the Eco Power Stadium – possibly the biggest ever audience at a concert in Doncaster.

You’d think two such momentous moments would have been heaped with praise by the good people of our city (and yes, it is a city, despite those still demanding we call it a town ‘because that’s what it always has been and always will be.’)

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Why do people in Doncaster like to moan about everything?

But take a look at social media and you’d think it might have been the worst week in Doncaster’s long history.

The city announcement was met with scorn and blasted by many. ‘Waste of money,’ ‘bills will go up,’ ‘it’s a s*** hole” – were just some of the remarks that turned up on social media.

Within seconds of the announcement at midnight, the grumblers were out in force. Less than 11 hours of Doncaster becoming a city, I’d received an email telling me to ‘pack it in with the city status stories, we're bored of it already.’

We also had a bombardment of messages from people telling us not to use the term ‘city’ in stories. “It’s a town you idiots,” wrote one. “Why do you keep calling it a city?,” added another.

No sooner had that furore of misery died down when The Killers arrived in town, sorry city.

And rather than celebrating that such a renowned world class band were playing in the back garden, many turned their attentions to traffic and noise, with one Human (see what we did there?) not so keen on dancing and complaining that he couldn’t hear his TV and had to get up for the work the next day.

So why do so many people in Doncaster seem to complain about everything?

We’re constantly blasted at the DFP for daring to report the town’s various tragedies, of which there have sadly been many in recent years.

Believe us, we’d rather not have to report on murders, shootings and stabbings, but it’s our job. It’s the news. You don’t hear people telling the BBC not to cover the war in Ukraine or American school shootings.

"Why do you insist on dragging Doncaster down all the time?,” our critics say. “Why don’t you bring us good news? Why don’t you report on happy stuff.”

The thing is we do (like the city status and Killers concert) but still the grumbles come in.

If a survey says Doncaster is one of the worst places in Britain, we're simply reporting what someone else has said. It doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with it.

It’s not everyone of course. Lots of people were excited and pleased about The Queen and The Killers (that’s not a double header rock concert by the way).

But it certainly didn’t feel that way. Negativity seemed to outweigh the good vibes. Within hours of the city status announcement, hundreds of comments had piled in – and only a handful actually seemed to be rejoicing at the news.

During the Covid pandemic, it was all “stop scaremongering” and “this is fake news!,” often accompanied by angry face and sheep emojis.

That and we’re all part of some sort of global Main Stream Media elite (there’s another one you’ve probably seen) pumping out misinformation to panic and scare the public.

Yes, we’ll occasionally make the odd mistake. The odd spelling clanger. But that’s part and parcel of bringing the news to you fast.

‘Why don’t you get the facts before writing something?, they yell. And if we do and put out a story later in the day, we’re accused of being slow and brushed off as ‘old news.’

“Why don’t you write real news?,” is another comment when we choose to focus on something about more light-hearted to take away the doom and gloom.

So basically, whatever we do, we can’t win. And whatever we write about in Doncaster, it seems there’s a ready mob of people to moan about anything and everything.

As journalists, we’re used to having pretty thick skins, but the relentless abuse when we’re just trying to do our jobs is draining.

We’re used to the complaints, the angry voices not wanting light shone on their murky behaviour, the rise of vitriol, hatred and trolling via social media and the fact that being in a local newspaper as a badge of honour seems to have gone.

There was a time when if someone's story was published, proud relatives would rush out to buy ten copies. Now you're more likely to get a message via Facebook or Twitter wishing you dead simply because you've written something about Brexit.

Part of the role of the modern journalist entails scouring Facebook and Twitter and the like for news items, so consequently, its a place where we tend to spend quite a lot of our days.

And it’s a place that’s a joy and a hell in equal measure.

It’s a place where moments of happy news can be shared – photos of new arrivals, weddings, joyous family moments, where relationship statuses can be updated and where likes and love hearts come flooding in for something you’ve said and done.

But on the other side of the coin, it can be a place of torment, bullying and hell, the worst excesses of online culture.

Vile trolls, people ill-advisedly airing their dirty laundry in public, Facebook ‘stalkers’ perusing over every item posted, ready to pounce and pour hurt on the happier aspects of others’ lives.

We’ve had to block accounts, defend others when arguments have spiralled out of control and fended off people from the past who’ve wanted to stick the boot in.

Sadly, over the last few years, social media has become anything but social.

Anti-social more like.

It has become a breeding ground for hate and nastiness, comments that people would never say to your face and just a generally unpleasant cesspit where extreme views are bandied around like confetti. We’ve now got people who are proud to be racist and double down on their views when challenged.

Pleas to be be nice and respect each other fall on deaf ears – and sadly, the abuse often continues, unabated.

We’re half expecting to see such remarks under this column when it is shared online. Fair enough. We know not everyone agrees with what we may have to say.

Personally, we’d all prefer to live in a world however where Facebook can be a far nicer place than what it is now and where people can express their views without being ripped to shreds by the rabid social media pack of dogs.

Facebook is a place that’s ours, where we can come together. Let’s make it a nicer place eh?

Oh, and we’re very much self-aware that this is one long moan about the people of Doncaster moaning, so there’s no need to point that one out either.

Let’s just stop moaning about everything and celebrate Doncaster for once a while.