…we know why the Daily Mail feeds us trolls. We know why jumping to Daily Mail hate figures is not conducive to anything productive. It is a HUGE part of the problem. The word ‘cuts’. That’s over. They did them. Ages ago. We aren’t protesting about that any more, they exposed deeper issues.
I joined twitter to stalk Stephen Fry and after the general election watched as a twitter bubble formed around me, indicating the media visible left woken up to the possible impact of austerit. It should have seemed odd that our entire political media culture was so easily transferred to social media, what is more concerning is the structure of discussion that it brought. I simplisticly assumed the part of the political media I stumbled across, was a vehicle for change.
When the mainstream media have people under surveillance for working for someone(motorman) and monstering is the political technique, it was always going to have a culture which followed suit in the internet bubble they created. The culture of ‘celebrity’ enough to justify the most horrific behaviour. Blaming the trolls that are a feature of internet life, for the function they play in a culture created by mainstream and supposedly serious media and political institutions, is not on.
Those of us who are not part of that culture pay the price. Of the Orwell longlisted bloggers I know, we all have our trolls. Konnolsky has a fake wife, Amanda got someone raking up her career and trying to shock her with her actual life, I never thought I would have anyone as interested in me as the author of my spoof was and have learned to expect fire every time someone I don’t know falls out with someone on the internet. I never met a man who would tell me to keep my legs shut for the sake of the economy, or that I was stealing from him when my daughter was born, in real life. Not one who expected to be taken seriously. We learn to ignore them. It would be lovely if our mainstream political media could do the same and stop creating the culture where they are necessary while we try to have a conversation.
This absurd tribalism is a construct made necessary by political circumstances and the only people it is convincing are the circles who thought they could have an impermeable manipulatable extension of their culture on the internet.
On the internet social is more important than media. That bit was only added so journalists could justify spending so much time dossing and to legitimise it as a way to simulate contact with the outside world. The political media need to take some responsibility for the tribalism, trolling and gaslighting they sold us as political debate. Especially in the context of the noxious bullshit that forms our current centre position. and the fact they are mixing with people living actual lives where twitter isn’t a part of their professional network or job or a message.
Because they have actual power, and we were all well used to the culture of the internet before they discovered chatrooms and gave them an added piquancy. We are people living lives they are removed from. Maybe they should stop to consider the distance between online life and offline. It might make the debate they sell more relevant. And make the ‘political’ bits of the internet a much nicer, safer, place.