Twitter as an intimidation medium, a phenomenon not confined to post-event heckling of teen Olympic divers. Lisa Ansell examines.
“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness…” – George Orwell, 1984
Our political parties like swarming as a political technique online. It creates the impression they give a shit about something for a second and it gives their echochamber amplification. Luke Bozier revealed they also consider people with twitter accounts legitimate targets for the defamation and harassment that can hide underneath this.
The structure of the political debate our establishment sells, requires hate speech and an indifference to an extraordinary amount of reality. It creates the noise that allows reality to be drowned out and establishes the technique as legitimate and the structure of debate.
Our political media used to rely on the distance their elitism allowed, gradually increasing right of reply as the internet broke down their walls. Party political media figures now are always at the head of twitter storms declaring their usefulness, and many of our political media puppets rely on swarms of acolytes to ensure dissent is shouted down so they can avoid addressing criticism. Free Speech is not the only casualty so far.
It is an attempt to dehumanise the person you are swarming, so that you are used to dehumanising people. So you will define an entire person solely on the basis of 140 characters, or a narrow ideological or identity label, or an objectionable statement.
One cannot predict what crime is being committed, because it is entirely in your perspective and values, or the idea you are following, groupthink demands the tribe all agree, which is possible when the perspectives and values are so similar and you only know a name, a comment, or an action. Whether they know about the idea you follow, or agree, is irrelevant.
That that was the technique that defined online activism is why twitter is quickly being devalued as a useful tool for people to communicate politically. Which is also very useful and rather the point. But social media is hardwired to learn, because people are. Bubbles don’t burst when they are made of people, they evolve. People move on or grow up.
The media hungry radical left rummage through other people’s history, lifting as many anachronistic terms that will allow them to swarm and attack as they can possibly manage. Any excuse to shout at someone, to protect their rightful privilege, while they dine out on hardship.
ACAB [all coppers are bastards], Scab or just existing outside an ideology or political belief. Like the vicar finding out you had an abortion, the ideologue finding that your reality contradicts their dogma turns quickly. There can be no real solidarity with someone whose humanity is so easily overridden by beliefs they choose.
The acronym is irrelevant it’s all just a fairly homogenous tribe shouting at someone because they are again entitled to.
Righteousness can easily disguise that what you are doing is harassing: bullying, defaming, scaring, and swarming another human being en masse, for having an opinion or reality that isn’t yours. A real person whom you don’t know.
Labour factions rely on swarms demanding you agree their position is not what it actually is, even if that means denying your own reality. This is while conflating personalities with ideas so you only have the option of addressing the person, at which point attitudes to how interaction occurs change dramatically.
The same blindness and groupthink takes hold regardless of the morality of the cause or the consequences for the person you are swarming, because those swarming are not thinking. The medium and the culture gives them the right.
The ideology they learned said so. ‘Tactics’ which should alarm ANY adult used to interacting with a world away from a laptop screen or “other lefties”, become acceptable when aimed at someone with a twitter account whose existence falls outside the ideology you defined your login with.
I should think the idea that it was a political technique will amuse and horrify people in future, and while the concern about trolls is admirable, it would be easier to deal with them if they didn’t blend in so seamlessly with the requirements of those at the heart of the establishment.
The frankly nauseating spectacle of the twitter two minutes hate with targets decided by a stampede with the turning circle of a London Cab has begun to bore people. It’s ugly and it is disturbing, and with the homogenous tribal elitism and misogyny of our political class, is especially nasty if you are not a MUCOW [Male, Upper Class, Oxbridge, White.]. That structure still defining the cliques who are not, because they orbit the media who are.
It’s dangerous, people are not who they seem on the internet. Inside those twitter storms (I’ve had a few) there are usually one or two who hang around for a week or so, its easy to pick up fixations on the net. They can be local, they can hang on for several years, having someone fixated on a fantasy idea of you that you cannot challenge is not fun.
Nor is it easy to shake them off, and certainly not with a political press who ensure that deeply intimidating behaviour is normalised as political discourse or technique.
Most people on twitter don’t have a newspaper office or a party office to hide behind, something the irresponsible hacks dining out on it could do well to remember, You you only see a sliver of a person’s life through a twitter id, you can’t see if someone is vulnerable or dangerous or ill when you are encouraging this kind of behaviour as the norm, or witch-hunting those who are part of the culture created. Chris Dillow here bringing attention to Helen Lewis after some of her more irresponsible articles.
Separate tribes willing to turn on their own and attack everyone else are very useful to our political establishment. It is amusing that twitter took the torch of the tabloids it declared itself the antithesis of…. Those for whom twitter storms are bread and butter are remarkably thin skinned, barely able to cope with being aware people know how limited their output is, never mind being subjected to the techniques they sell as campaigning against hate.
Maybe when this bubble bursts, we can start having rational conversations about things again? It is at least time to look at those who champion twitter storms as political action, and ask what they are really trying to achieve.