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This article was started before I read Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, and was not intended as a review of the book. But hey ho.
There has been a misunderstanding, and it is time to correct it. I know for the journalists and
commentariat who moved into a giant chatroom and declared it their future, twitter was something
new, but I wish they had not in their arrogance christened it ‘media’.
Most of us are used to living in an ugly offensive world outside our comfort zone. The internet as a
realm where you see the world’s consciousness in writing is not a surprise. You don’t need to have
joined a dating website and ended up with an inbox full of penis pictures, or have been deceived by
someone with a fake identity on a forum, to understand the internet reflects a world that is often
more confusing, dangerous and offensive than you knew. Not a surprise that people are sometimes
not who they say they are, more vulnerable than they let on or that people behave irrationally. Few
of us expect to live in a world where everyone likes us, agrees with us or thinks like us. Most of us
are careful on the internet for this reason.
For a while it was fascinating watching our political media culture adjust to their internet paddling
pool. It was interesting to see how the dynamics within a homogenous tribal political culture
shape the newsprint we read and policies we live with, how these people behaved when reality
contradicted their needs. Watching ‘trolls’ hide disturbing behaviour underneath twitter storms
championed as political action, their views normalised by political narratives. The unpleasantness
that exists on the fringes of this digital culture is often nasty, but it is just a reflection of that
culture’s influence and output. It’s educational, and anyone with any sense keeps a good distance
from it if they want to have respectful and sensible conversations with people whose perspectives
differ from their own. The christening of twitter as ‘media’ by a culture who have never had to
reconcile themselves to the complexity of the real world, or their detachment from it, mean twitter
now occupies a unique place in digital history.
Twitter is the chatroom that can land you in prison.
Ludicrous tribalism and mob mentality are a symptom of the atomisation of the power of
mainstream media as we transition to a digital media landscape. Sometimes it’s funny. A tweet sent
while waiting for the washing machine during a JP Morgan PR exercise can land you in the New York
Times. Sometimes it is less funny, and drunkenly participating in a twitter storm against a media
figure can land you in prison for 3 months. Even if you were drunk, or your capacity was reduced
because of a learning disability.
The anonymity that allows keyboard warriors in their pants to vent their spleens, can also hide
extreme vulnerability. Vulnerability and being offensive are not mutually exclusive.
Twitter wars, as media feminists and lefties face demands for accountability from those they ‘speak
for’ while they grapple with the radical idea people are complicated, can be hilarious, but media
figures with publications and political parties behind them, are not arguing with equals. Defamation
by a media figure cannot be challenged by most people, nor can the swarms of acolytes who bite
in their defence. Media narratives do have power over people’s lives. Smearing and lying as reflex
do not translate to a medium where you are mixing with people who do not have your protection.
A spot on Newsnight demanding the force of the law be used to protect your internet experience
is not available to most. Organisations respond quickly to media pressure and if power is to be
enjoyed, it needs to be used responsibly. If your twitter row is resulting in someone being fired,
imprisoned or put at risk, it is time to get some perspective on your internet use and think about
I don’t think free speech is threatened long term by recent ‘twitter prosecutions’,
digital culture evolves too quickly for legislation to keep up. I have always liked the
visibility of the vitriol on twitter, once it has been drawn out it can be challenged. I
am quite sure there will be a booming market in online ‘troll catchers’ before long,
but before twitter becomes the new myspace and ephemeral social media makes it
look quaint, it is time for those who have been part of this transition to reflect on
what has been learned. The most important part of the term ‘social media’ is ‘social’
not media. If media figures are going to mingle with ‘society’, it is about time they
got to grips that there are consequences.
I think this probably saying Britpop was shit. Which it should because it was. But I got lost somewhere.
Originally posted on Velvet Coalmine:
You may be wondering why I haven’t leapt into the current wave of 90s/Britpop nostalgia with all the teeth-bared alacrity of a pseudo-academic Berserker, desperate to point out that the career of Alex James highlights everything wrong with the world. The reasons I haven’t are, broadly, that a) I desire a worthier opponent than Alex James; b) Britpop isn’t, and really never was, the problem. Anything I might want to say about Britpop is wider than Britpop itself and concerns the particular intertwined development of politics, culture and society in that weird and decisive decade.
The problem with the 90s wasn’t simply that “politics” (specifically, the recognition of class as a political identity) vanished from mainstream pop culture, but that it vanished from mainstream politics too. After the Tories’ scorched-earth approach to industry in the 80s, the 90s saw a salting of the ground though privatization of the railways and…
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I wrote this, an examination of the projects coming out of the Big Society. Including the Trussel Trust Foodbank franchise, and the Shaftesbury Partnership. It’s my third outing on Pieria and I am rather proud of it. I think it’s worth reading and I don’t often say that about my own stuff. I look specifically at the plans within the Shaftesbury Partnership to reconfigure training of social workers(apparently they only need 5 weeks training….) to create a layer of policy makers, and social workers who dont have to be troubled with the actual knowledge base that underpins social work. Basically you could sub this article ‘Privatisation 2.0.
In it, I briefly allude to Nurse First, the baby of Chris Mould, the executive at the head of the Trussel Trust. That patron saint of hungry people.
I missed this. One of Nurse First’s projects, one of the first cohort of their projects.
”Reducing inappropriate prescribing
Last year Western Cheshire PCT spent in the region of £500,000 on prescriptions for oral nutritional supplements to treat and preventing malnutrition but up to 75% may have been inappropriately prescribed. The project developed and implemented nutrition care pathways to include malnutrition screening and guidelines on prescribing and monitoring of nutritional supplements to improve the identification and management of malnutrition.
Money raised for pilot: £51,000
Cash-releasing cost savings: £300,000”
When I wrote this article about Food Poverty, and I mentioned that GPs were under considerable pressure NOT to prescribe Oral Nutritional Supplements to prevent malnutrition, even when they are clearly needed, because the NHS is not there to plug deficits in household food budgets, THAT is what I was talking about. Roughly. That would be one of the first projects from Nurse First, baby of Chris Mould, the patron saint of hungry people. Working to prevent hungry people getting the type of help that prevents malnutrition. Not the dried food parcels that do not such thing, but bring him a great deal of influence. Clearly 75% of food supplements, in a country with the type of food poverty that allowed Trussell Trust’s expansion plans to go ahead, were wrongly prescribed…..food poverty isn’t a thing is it?
CS Lewis. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Sums up the neo liberal left. Who really only ever fight for their self image and right to harm others to preserve.
Have gone back to my maiden name. Lisa Muggeridge. All future work will be published under the name Lisa Muggeridge.