- Date published:
7:10 am, December 4th, 2019 - 40 comments
Categories: democratic participation, Dirty Politics, Media, political education, uk politics - Tags: social media, stephanie rodgers
My heart went out to the Brits last week on the day of their latest terrorist attack. Terrorism is a particular horror compounded when a relatively functional democracy is having to adjust to the normalisation of fundamentalists doing high profile killings during an election campaign. That and the creeping reality that society has moved on from a biased media culture to one of outright lies, manipulation and bold as brass dirty politics.
The day of the attack someone created a ‘lefties side with the terrorists’ fake tweet from Jeremy Corbyn and it circulated fast on social media. This is what happens in the age of deceit,
Wow— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) November 29, 2019
In a cab and very angry driver just said ‘look what Corbyn has tweeted about #LondonBridge attack’
He was sent this on a WhatsApp group. And it’s totally fake. Had to try and convince him to actually look at Twitter itself. He *still* isn’t sure #fakenews pic.twitter.com/PVKugjfKap
And by the way, this is the very definition of fake news— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) November 29, 2019
Not tired producers making stupid editing decisions
Not questions politicians don’t like
Not the wrong picture or piece of footage used in error by a stressed newsroom.
The billionaire press is throwing anything and everything at Corbyn now. Please ask yourself why it might be doing this.— George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) November 29, 2019
And of course, fuck all the Zuckerberg robber barons of the world.
Some hard lessons coming up for New Zealand next year. Not sure what the solutions are, but I suspect some of them are based in the ongoing need for solid left wing and progressive grassroots movements allying with Māori. We need to normalise a political culture based on real relationships, where people can work through their beliefs and thinking about how they want society to be without being constantly bombarded with information and processes that are deeply anti-human.
If it’s easy to get sucked into the emotional manipulation of a high octane social media egged on by feeding frenzy MSM, that becomes a bit harder when talking to an actual person, a taxi driver for instance. Once we are having those conversations with people we know and have meaningful relationships with (family, friends, colleagues), the impetus to work through or accommodate difference is stronger still, and the conversations can go in a different, more life-affirming direction.
The challenge for the left isn’t how to convince the likes of Hooton, Farrar, Gosman or whatever rabid opponent on the internet. It’s how we generate politics that appeal to people who are politically transient but likely to be captured by the drama and addictive nature of the latest meme as it scrolls on by.
For those of us doing politics online, Stephanie Rodgers had some potent advice in a recent twitter thread,
Seeing a lot of really good messaging around not boosting / repeating bad political takes, because they need oxygen. But I also know how frustrating it is seeing awful things and not responding / rejecting them (and of course that’s how they’re designed!)
Here’s my tip, which I will happily admit I am sometimes terrible at following: find the counter-message to boost instead. Don’t acknowledge the nastiness – just put the positive out into the world, because it deserves to be there anyway.
Find the politician or NGO or commentator putting the good messages and data forward. Or say it yourself. People who’ve seen the terrible take will know what you’re responding to, people who haven’t won’t be exposed to it through you. AND you get to vent that frustration!
Another challenge for the left in NZ is how we approach election year. If we want a Labour/Green government, what’s most likely to give us that? Especially when we may be stuck between the rock and hard place of a right intent on dragging NZ into MAGA-land and a left disappointed, sometimes bitterly, in how little the Labour-led government has managed to achieve in its first term. I’m torn between writing all the bad stuff about the government now and getting it out of the way, or spending time now building a strong frame of encouragement to vote them in again. I don’t feel we can afford to be complacent about this.