COMMENT: Are you feeling helpless in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack? There are a number of things you can do, and they've all been widely publicised. You can donate to the victims, you can offer support to your local Muslim community.
But there's something else you need to do, and you need to start doing it from right now. You need to report your racist friends.
If you see any friend on any social network spreading hate towards other cultures, religions, nationalities or ethnicities, it's time to stop ignoring it, dismissing them as just "that" friend who shares the crazy stuff.
If you scroll through your social media, you might be surprised with the amount of thinly veiled racism going on in some people's posts, comments or likes. We can no longer be blind to it, for being blind by choice is being an accomplice. It's time to adopt a zero tolerance policy to hatred.
Your friend sharing alt-right links, or posting incendiary comments, is not "just being a dick". They're not just kidding around, they're not just messing with you. They're not just kids being kids. They're not just a troll or just a keyboard warrior. In fact, there is no "just" about it anymore (there never really was).
When you see your friend going on about "Asian drivers" or "those curry munchers", call them out, shut them down, report them, do whatever you need to do to ensure that this level of everyday racism is no longer accepted in New Zealand - because normalising that kind of discourse, like we have been doing in New Zealand for years, ultimately contributes to making people like this terrorist feel like they have some kind of valid point.
That friend who puts on a fake Indian accent? That's what a racist looks like. Racism is a violation of human rights. Do not let that happen in your life and go unpunished.
It may sound ridiculous, over-the-top, whatever other adjective you want to give it. You can make excuses for your friends, say they're actually really nice guys (I'm sure some would have said the same about the Christchurch terrorist), but, at the end of the day, they're degrees of the same thing - of a "them vs us" rhetoric that needs to end here and now.
If you see any of your friends posting racist statements on social media, however lightly, report them. Report them hard. Report them to the social network, report them to local authorities if necessary. Do not risk witnessing it all escalate while you sit quietly at home, thinking "there's that guy being a dick again". Don't let the emoji or the "lol" at the end of their sentence fool you. It's hatred, it's racism, and it has no place anywhere near any of us.
It's not enough to unfriend them or unfollow them, it's not enough to distance yourself from them. Call them out for being racist, name them, tag them, shame them, report them, all the way to police if need be.
You have children, or good friends who have children, and you don't want them to live through another March 15 like this year's March 15. The spread of racist hatred stops here.
The Christchurch terrorist who livestreamed the massacre spent two years planning it, being fairly open about it all online, in forums and social media. Someone, at some point, could have stopped it. But they didn't. They probably thought "that's just how he is". Except it's not. He grew into that but he wasn't always that. Being racist is not a character trait, it's not a quirk.
People online witnessed him becoming a killer but didn't know they had to stop him. They could not have imagined it would come to this.
You now know it can come to this. You don't get to ignore it anymore.
Don't be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Spreading hate on social media can be criminal. See it? Report it.