Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Social Media and the Political Pinhead

I'm not a big follower of politics.  I mean, I'm a follower of it, just not a BIG follower of it.  I'm a follower of it in the way that the average person is a follower of football - you can't not really, it's all around you all the time, pretty much 24-7.  You can't not pay attention to politics in the same way that you can't not pay attention to the weather.  It's just there.  

So, this means that I'd have a stab at knowing the names of prime ministers and presidents of various countries and the parties they represent, but not much more.  Don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm not well-informed mind you - I think I definitely am, but the political process leaves me pretty much cold.  The machinations of what one party is doing to another, who is leading whom, how and why is completely uninteresting as far as I'm concerned, and how the political game is played more-or-less amounts to moving of chairs around the Titanic.  Such-and-such is going to change everything, such-and-such is a nasty piece of work, such-and-such is doing this, that and the other and that's wrong/right and clear proof that the Labor/Tory/Rebublican/Democrat/Octogenarian Mothers' Nosehair Collective party is providing the sort of leadership that will take this country to the top/bottom, is just the sort of stuff that bores me to sobs.  This sort of talk just seems such a gross over-simplification of .... well, anything really, simply from the point that it's just so unlikely to be true.  You cannot divide the entire population of the world neatly in half and, depending on your standpoint, label one side "right" and the other side "wrong", that's not how ANYTHING works.  Neither is the leader of xyz party likely to be Super-Jesus or Beelzebub either - like anyone, he/she will selfish interests and ambitions, they're almost certainly not motivated by any real desire to "make a difference", and somehow they ended up at the top of the pile.  Kind of like your boss, really.  The best you can hope for is for some basic competence and intelligence, but as we all know that's not a pre-requisite for being in charge of something anyway.  .... Kind of like your boss.         

This is why the social media desperados drive me up the wall, as well.  You know the type - the type that will publish any and every article they can get their hands on to their Facebook/Twitter feed and shrilly declare that whatever dickhead who happens to be in charge this week is freakin' .... HITLER ...  on ..... STEROIDS, and that's why they deserve to DIE, NOW, VERY PAINFULLY AND SLOWLY because of this THING that their party did and ...... blah.  I tend to find that more often than not the "thing" is probably not as politically motivated as you would think and could have happened on anyone's watch, but people do love a good yell, don't they.  These platforms are there for people to air their various interests and opinions, but I always find this sort of online behaviour to be so intrusive and discourteous, too - particularly in an international context.  Really, who gives a damn about your political leanings in your inevitably uninteresting little part of the world when there are wars being fought and actual injustices going on - the "cause" you're representing is almost certainly less significant than any of those, but the fact that you're being so shrill about it implies that you think it is.  You're also very likely to assume that everyone is approaching your cause from the same standpoint as well - after all, EVERYONE is a middle-class English speaker in a large urban centre, and everyone will relate to your story on that basis.  

It's this last point that really gets my goat when it comes to things like feminism and race, and when statistics are published in articles.  Something like "80% of women will be sexually assaulted before the age of 16" is a good example, not least of which because its actual meaning isn't clear (80% of female sexual assault victims, or 80% of all women?).  It's the sort of thing that gets bandied about a lot, as well as "X% of non-white people experience racial discrimination in the workplace".  The statistics might actually be correct, but where are they correct?  The article you're linking to on your newsfeed was probably written for a specific publication with a specific catchment.  What's true for that part of the world isn't necessarily true everywhere else, and posting them as though they're universal is just plain stupid.  What it also does is colour these issues with your local brush, and if you're from a big enough and culturally significant enough place (the USA, I'm looking at you!), you can fool everyone into thinking that police habitually beat up black teenagers everywhere, or that men really are bastards all over the world.  

This is pretty much why my Facebook page is mostly meaningless bullshit.  Lately a lot of cats have been making an appearance, which sort of reflects where this blog has gone, too.  I'm sure lots of people must think that I've become some sort of Mad Cat Lady.  When I haven't been talking about cats, it's been cricket - 'tis the season in Australia after all, and we're on the verge of a World Cup.  Red hair has been a recurring theme for the past few months as well because y'know - Carrot.   I do often wonder whether people somewhere think that my blatherings are really frivilous and annoying, though.  Maybe my cheerful, unintelligible rubbish is half the world's idea of obnoxious, attention-seeking behaviour and everyone hates me.  It's something that genuinely crosses my mind from time-to-time, and will occasionally preclude me from posting anything at all.  It has genuinely made me a bit quieter than usual!    

Sure as hell though, I won't be inviting you to play Candy Crush Saga anytime soon.  That really IS obnoxious.  Anyone who does that deserves what's coming to them!

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