"Know what I mean, 'Arry?"
"Social media has brought more illness to Ireland than Ebola has"
"Social media rewires our brains, shortens attention spans and stunts intellectual development".
The 'Bash Social Media' article is back in the Irish Times today. Granted, it's a tad more subtle than Chris Johns' ear splitting, sphincter tightening diatribe, but essentially it's the same nonsense re-wrapped and re-packaged by Harry McGee, the Irish Times political correspondent.
Harry announced his intention to write a social media bashing piece on twitter 3 days ago -
"Doing a piece on unsocial media. What candidates do you think came in for particularly brutal treatment and can anything be done?"
A handful of people replied to Harry, some suggested names of candidates who had, in their opinions, received online abuse. Others rightly pointed out nameless pro-government trolls like Populist Watch Irl who actually got a Sinn Fein and Left bashing write up in the Irish Times online at 16.50 on February 26th, slap bang in the middle of the BAI Moratorium on General Election Coverage.
I replied to Harry's request with a question of my own -
"Will you be following up with a piece on which groups in society came in for particularly brutal treatment under the last govt?"
I wasn't surprised to see that my attempt to insert a 'Why' into Harry's article went unaddressed.
Harry started out with 5 paragraphs of sobbing over the roasting of newly elected anti-choice TD Jack Chambers on social media. Harry tells us -
"Some of the posts on Chambers are not repeatable. But others are on the outer limits of taste"
But let's be crystal clear here, Jack Chambers was roasted on social media because he is against allowing a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment. It's not just that Jack would vote no in any such referendum, it's that he holds a position where no person in this country should be allowed the same democratic right to have a say in such affairs as he has. The vast amount of comments posted about Jack Chambers were erudite, witty and cuttingly satirical. Harry doesn't get to set the bar on 'Taste', there is no universal definition of 'taste'. For Harry the outer limits are the roasting of Jack Chambers, for others, it's forcing a woman to go full term with a fatal fetal abnormality.
Harry goes on to list the (Mainly Labour) candidates who received robust online criticism. Never once did Harry ask why. He didn't ask if those posting such comments were doing so from hostel hotel rooms with impoverished children nor did he ask how much those commentators had suffered because of medical card culls, insecure employment or any number of brutal treatments forced upon them by an arrogant and uncaring government.
When people post comments critical of politicians, it's done so as a form of debate. The great unwashed (I include myself) have an absolute right to speak freely on any matter they wish. I respectfully suggest that if Harry is more offended by this legitimate form of debate, rather than the misery caused through the structural violence of austerity or by the domination of morally conservative individuals and groups over the bodies of women, that he took a wrong turn somewhere in this article. The 'Why' is always the real story, know what I mean 'Arry?