As I wrote yesterday there was a mass internet explosion that followed the release of the new Conservative campaign posters, however when I wrote that blog things hadn’t yet turned as nasty as they were going to get.
Predictably after the outpouring of #ivenevervotedtory tweets on Twitter the #ivenevrvotedlabour tweets began. At first, from what I observed, things were quite well-behaved, people were on the whole giving sensible political, historical, policy and ideology driven tweets to justify the reasons why they had never voted for .
Very quickly things began to turn ugly, on both sides. For my part I was more-or-less accused of being a benefit scrounging, ASBO owning, lazy, work-shy pleb - apparently I must be to vote Labour. I don’t recall saying anything slightly offensive of abusive to generate this sort of hostility, you don’t have to. Some people just can’t behave from behind a computer screen. Several people were tweeting along the same offensive lines, degenerating to the pont where Godwin’s Law would have to be invoked to deal with several messages. One tweeter rather outdid himself on the offensiveness scale with his #ivenevervotedlabour tweets.
Generally the stupidity comes from just a few on each side and others pick up on it and start more of a row. What is most annoying is when people pick up on one comment from one person in a Party and decide to throw it out as an example of the nature of the whole Party in a SCANDALISED nature. I was offended by many of the above tweeters posts, as I was on Sunday night when the infamous Tory Bear decided to tweet that Gordon Brown looked like a ‘peado’ but I would never dream of using these examples to attack all Tories and their Party – some might, not me. The same seems to be happening the other way around today as David Wright MP comes under fire for his ill-advised tweet, which read, “ivenevervotedtory because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it’s still a scum-sucking pig. And cos they would ruin Britain.” which has caused much jumping up and down from Tory bloggers and tweeters and Eric Pickles using this as an example of behaviour from the entire Labour Party – a rather drastic accusation.
I’m not going to be hypocritical (as many on both sides are acting at the moment over this) it was an inappropriate remark for an MP to make. There were people saying much, much worse but they have the safety of knowing they’re not going to be picked up on by the media and widely pilloried for it (not that, that fact should be any excuse for making stupid and offensive remarks though). Personally I don’t think “scum-sucking pigs” is that offensive but it’s still offensive enough that you should be aware that people aren’t going to like it if you publish it to the web. David Wright has apologised and clarified that he was referring to the Tory Party not individual Tory voters, which I thought was obvious but as I also wrote on yesterdays blog you need to be careful when you’re dealing with an issue where you could potentially be, or be accused of, mocking or insulting voting members of the public. Whilst I’m sure the tweet wasn’t referring to voting members of the public it was obvious that it would be identified as such for the purposes of outrage. The matter is now reaching absurdly high levels of absurdity, with David Wright making matters worse by claiming the tweet was hacked/hijacked and edited (something which I am fairly sure you cannot do to an individual tweet. I know if I want to edit a tweet, usually due to spelling or URL errors, I have to delete the original and then send another tweet to correct.), of course the Tory complainers are using this, decidedly suspect, claim in their outraged campaigning against the tweet and the whole thing seems to be dominating the political twitterwaves this morning.
I got bored of the #ivenevervoted tweeting quite soon yesterday, about as soon as it degenerated into slurs, smears and insults and I logged off. It’s frankly boring and the hypocrisy creeping around is annoying. Some people are very quick to attack the other side for behaviours they would defend on their own side. I try to stay out of that type of thing; the hypocrisy and the insults. I have a ‘happy to debate’ policy and often debate with tweeters/bloggers/internet users from other parties whom I like and find interesting to talk to. I also follow a policy of not saying anything from behind the safety of the internet that I wouldn’t say to somebody in person, something others don’t seem to bother with, which leads to these types of problems.
People tend to forget, more so on Twitter than anywhere else I think, that when you click ‘update’ you are publishing your words to the internet. It’s not really any different from publishing a book or giving a quote for an interview. You are accountable for your comments and just like a book or interview quote the comment isn’t going to go away, no matter how furiously you click delete and pray that it will. It really is worth remembering, especially now that Twitter activities seem to be getting reported more and more in the mainstream media.
I’ll quickly return to what started this long and annoying Twitter abuse/outrage extravaganza, the new Conservative campaign posters. True to form the parodies arrived quickly after my blog post yesterday lunchtime, which I think exacerbated ill-feelings on the Conservative blogging/tweeters side and helped things to spiral out of hand. More hypocrisy on show as Tories on the internet ask for their activists to do the same to Labour campaigns and photos whilst others shout about “negative/smear campaigning” and criticise the whole thing. Let’s be fair, supporters on both sides are guilty of this kind of photoshopping and spoofing. If the Tories were to find a nice Labour poster or suchlike to spoof I wouldn’t complain that it was a disgraceful thing to do. I might complain if I found the content objectionable but the general spoofing of posters and the like is OK with me. I’d expect it. I think it’s odd that people are complaining about it when it seems quite inevitable at a time when more and more political activists are taking to the web to spread messages and photoshopping technology is readily available. It might not be much of a positive campaign move but I think it’s quite amusing and also interesting to see people getting involved online in such a way. If people genuinely don’t like this type of campaigning then I would like to see them complaining when there own party do it (as I did with the pointless Jedward poster efforts from both sides).
I suppose the crux of this blog is ‘calm down a bit’, people need to start thinking before they send-off abusive messages to the internet or rather not send them at all, as it adds nothing to debate and only seems to spawn more pointless arguing and abuse and don’t complain about something that you wouldn’t get so worked up about if the shoe was on the other foot because it’s awfully annoying and just makes you look hypocritical and don’t get so worked up about a few unavoidable spoof posters. In the main just calm down and let’s try to be civil to one another.