Most people seem to agree on one thing. 2017 was a horrible year.
The leftists are declaring that it was a terrible as President Trump took office. The Far Right were claiming it was a horrible as there was an ‘attack on their values’.
Whether I disagree with either side, partially or not, I agree that it was a year of hate.
I believe that 2017 was the year that social media politics really came of age. Political organisations have been tinkering at the edges of the medium for a few years now, but they really didn’t know what to do with it.
A chap once told me that we take a generation to learn the etiquette for a technology. So, whilst baby-boomers saw the rise of the web, it was Millennials who really took it up and ran with it. Social media will be no different, which is a real shame. I don’t see that we’re going to learn how to use it properly for some time.
So, this hate that I mentioned.
Twitter, which seems to be more ‘at fault’ than other platforms, has become a horrible place to go. I use it mostly as a news source, for a PR like me it also provides the best way to get in touch with journalists. I love Twitter. It’s basically poetry. You craft your message into a limited structure. A well-crafted Tweet can take some time to put together, it’s written and re-written until it says just what you want it to, clearly and concisely. At least, that’s the ideal of how it’s used. The way it’s being used, it as a place to shout at others.
President Trump, to get that subject out the way ASAP, isn’t my main gripe here. I don’t buy into the image that he’s some fat oaf sat in bed tweeting angrily. I believe he knows what he is doing, which is taking heavy control over his messaging. He knows that the media won’t portray things in ‘his way’. So, he goes direct.
My main gripe is the polarisation of society, exaggerated by Twitter.
Every day, hundreds of opinions I disagree with are placed in front of me on my timeline, summed up in 280 or less characters. It’s hardly enough space to explain anything properly. As my fingers glide through the tweets my blood pressure rises. “Tories are evil scum” I read, blood pressure up and I’m ready to hit reply with something about lifting people out of poverty and creating jobs. No part of me stops to think why they may have written that. For all I know their son could have just been run over by the spirit of Thatcher. Of course, I’m being flippant, but there’s a point. Tweets are entirely out of context.
My reply is then seen by his followers and the hate begins. Hordes of lefty luvvies descend to tell me about saving the NHS, whilst Europhobes ride in to spew abuse at Diane Abbot. Twitter’s reactionary and concise nature means that everyone jumps in at the slightest bit of disagreement. Even if I am engaged in a good discussion with the original poster.
You used to be allowed to explain yourself. If I wanted to say that I find President Trump OK, then I’d have a chance to lay out my case. I’d pre-empt disagreement and allow a reply of equal nature.
Now, people stop each other after a single sentence to shout back. It ping-pongs back and forth and everything escalates. Whilst most of us are in the centre-ground of politics, we seem further apart than ever before.
We now live in a world where Democrats are emboldening President Trump. If Democrats had conceded with grace and got into proper campaigning, they’d be set for a strong win in a few years. Instead of becoming a party of opposition, they’re now a party of hate. You can’t be pro-anything right of centre without someone calling you a Nazi, or a racist. This means President Trump can point at them and say, “told you so” to his supporters. Many of whom already feel under attack.
In the UK, we’ve got lies spreading faster than truth based solely on Twitter. False claims about the cost of changing the passport to Blue were spread far quicker than the truth that a re-design was already needed, at the same cost.
There is a saying that “A lie will be twice around the world before the truth get’s out of the starting block”. Well, Twitter has made this a lot worse and made us all hate a lot more because of it.
So, though I hate New Year’s Resolutions, here’s one for all of us.
Let’s make 2018 the year that we stop and discuss, rather than argue. A year of learning other views and being challenged. A year of deleting a Tweet before hitting send.
If we do this, then I believe we can make it a year of less hate.
This post was originally posted on digitalgruel.com