ANALYSIS: The real reason that social media are a curse.


mesnip18716 I was talking to a good friend yesterday about this and that. Actually, I’ve never met this “good friend” – such is the nature of the internet – but I’ve known her since BW – Before Waspi. She was saying that one fellow SPA victim has 4p left in her purse until Saturday. Yesterday was Thursday, and we’re talking Great Britain here. Why don’t more people care?

Today, my good friend in turn will have to go for another assessment to see if she “really is” still unfit for work.

This involves her sitting with some 30-something privatised snot-head and, basically, begging for some money from the State which has so far welched on £12,000 worth of pension income they promised her in 1955. She is 61 years old with diabetes, and the beginnings of cataracts.

“Breezing through life” for my chum involved being married for 25 years, raising two children, and then going through a divorce. So she gets nothing at all from her ex – although she spent 15 years being the sole carer for his mother. Don’t go there: some people are just nice, and some aren’t.

Her savings are now exhausted, so the one asset she has – a flat – is now on the market which, in her region, is dead. Fine if you live in the London property bubble, not so good if you don’t.

Her kids both have ‘jobs’ haha: one is paid the legal minimum by a posh charity, the other has a zero hours contract joke that is but one small step above serfdom. They help when they can, but they too are struggling week by week to keep their heads above the sewer water.

The word “scandal” is hopelesly overused these days, but the issue of State Pension Age ‘reform’ (today’s term for screwing the citizen) is on the radar of only a very few Britons. Somehow – through leadership mismanagement, government lies, PR naivety and media apathy – the public awareness of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Injustice) campaign remains tiny.

As it happens, my friend is very media-savvy and full of good ideas about how to put pressure on the Government. But Camerlot that begat Mayflower represents (even for a lifelong politically MOR bloke like me) an Administration that has lost any moral compass it ever had…..and never had the compassion required to guide it in the first place.

In Cruel Britannia today, the only way left for the vulnerable is to grab the ruling Establishment by its overactive scrotal sac, and squeeze very hard indeed.

Most of the Waspi community don’t “get” social media, and this is both a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because they’ve lost touch with how media influence is marshalled these days – and thus believe that victory will be theirs if they keep turning up in Westminster with banners, while singing anthems and shaking hands with powerless Opposition MPs.

But in other ways it’s a very good thing indeed. For I’ve reached the view over the last two years that the problem with such media is not that they encourage the preference for foul abuse over fair debate. Rather, it is that the rest of us get a false impression of what most people are really thinking…..because such media attract, variously, the atypical activist, exhibitionist and generally extreme personalities in our culture.

Twitter, for example, I think gives all of us who use it an overly pessimistic impression of how the majority thinks in 2016.

According to Twitter’s own stats, only 37.5% of adults in the UK ever use Twitter….about 13 million people. And remember – that’s ever use, not regularly use.

In fact, only 13% of these tweet monthly.  So even on that basis, tweeters are just 4% of the population. The regulars we see on there every day are like the commenters on blog threads: a minute and almost certainly unrepresentative fraction of the population.

One of the reasons I started the new Slogpage Twattering Classes was to try and demonstrate some of the extremes of poor logic, hysterical abuse, opportunistic stats, banal thinking and wild conclusion-jumping that passes for mental normality on there. There are wonderful exceptions like MarkGSparrow, Bshaum, Anna Raccoon and Ed West, but that’s what they are: exceptional people offering wry truths in an engaging manner. On the whole, the general tenor of Twitter in the UK is what I’d imagine Dodge City in 1865 would’ve been like with Grant Shapps as the Marshal. (In the US, on the whole, it’s even worse).

Are the social media a bad thing? Yes, I think generally they are. I use them for hits, and ruthlessly avoid feeding the roaming nutters whose sole objective seems to be to suggest that the rest of us are Nazis with a penis inadequacy. For me, such media are a means to an end – but nevertheless, one more nasty that emerged from the Pandora’s box we call The Web.

But why are they a bad thing? Generally, I don’t think it’s that they turn normally well-balanced human beings into screaming banshees: I think it’s that they become havens wherein the extreme personality types can masquerade as the mainstream.

On Facebook, I post shots for a few friends and try to raise awareness of genuine bad stuff being done in the name of necessity. Look at the medium as a whole, however, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that two things are in play: narcissism, and the continuing cultural obsession with celebrity. It’s a gallery in which bigheads can show how well they’re doing, and wannabe fameys can look as if they live a life followed everywhere by the paparazzi.

Similarly, Twitter is (I’m sure) for some like doing the lottery or filling in the pools coupon: hit just that right note, and your Tweet will go round the world and back. For five hours, you really will go to the ball, Cinderella.

And yet, for something like WASPI that badly needs to capture the public imagination, it is the “fame element” of social media that gives a clue to what it badly needs.

Blogging, tweeting and Facebook posting has, in 99+% of cases, little or no chance of rising above the rest of the ego cacophony out there. As any experienced user of new media knows only too well, in most instances something one creates goes viral because a genuinely famous user picks it up and retweets it to his or her following of 74,000 tweeps.

Generally speaking, while FB pages are a useful way for Waspis to stay in touch, social media as a whole are very uncomfortable for this type and age group of woman. Also, in recent weeks, Waspis have seen what a powerfully pernicious tool even Facebook can be in the hands of the censorious.

I suspect that the main priority for SPA Reform victims right now is the search for a celebrity benefactor with the determination and bottle to turn a non-events into a calumny that must be corrected. I wonder what Joanna Lumley’s doing next week.

But in the meantime, even those down to their last 4p have to find ways to laugh about it. Few people can make being poverty-stricken funny, but LouisCK can:

Last night at The Slog: Hillary Clinton goes blackberrying