Here we are, folks. We’ve entered the twilight zone. We’ve hit the warp drive. We’ve dove head first down the rabbit hole. We’re well and truly unplugged from the Matrix and the world doesn’t seem to be what we thought it was. It’s a little bit grim.
Yes! It can only mean summertime in Scottish politics! The time of year where our media outlets surpass themselves in their ability to cobble together news stories from shoelaces, tin cans, half-a-packet of Wotsits and old bits of plastic that were used to baby-proof the kitchen back in 1997. “The kitchen is baby-proof now? STURGEON MUST RESIGN!”
After the much-hyped storming of Westminster by the 56 newly-elected SNP MPs, seemingly the entirety of the Scottish political social media bubble seems to have had every ounce of humour and fun ripped from its grubby little cybernat hands (claws, probably).
It’s no surprise really. Looking at the forthcoming five years of Tory government would make even the heartiest of the optimistic slink down against the wall and start sobbing uncontrollably. The sheer level of violence this government will inflict on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society via their ideological war on the ‘undeserving poor’ would put the Galactic Empire and Darth Vader to shame. Couple this with the seemingly never-ending screed of hate-filled attacks by the mainstream press against the cybernats/SNP/Scotland/Sturgeon and is it any surprise we’ve all turned a tad bitter?
I imagine Frodo Baggins, nervous but heart filled with hope, embarking on his quest to Mordor to destroy the Dark Lord Sauron. Every day he’s shouted at by a town cryer that follows him everywhere, loudly announcing the headlines from the Daily Mordor Express:
“VILE HOBBITS IN HATE-FILLED QUEST TO DESTROY PROUD AND PATRIOTIC MORDORIANS!”
“IS SAMWISE’S WEIGHT A SIGN THAT THE SHIRE IS SUBSIDISED BY BARAD-DUR?”
“IS THE SHIRE FILLED TO THE BRINK WITH ANTI-MORDOR SENTIMENT? WILL GANDALF CONDEMN?”
Now it’s a long walk to Mordor. Faced with such overwhelming negativity every day for months on end would make even Frodo want to tuck tail and go home – not to mention the increasing weight of the sinister presence of the Daily Mail…sorry…I mean ‘the One Ring’.
“I’m not doing it Sam! I’m not doing it! I’m going home! I’m going home!”
Now as ludicrous as this analogy is, I also think it hits the nail very much on the head. Despite having a Tory majority in the House of Commons (as fragile as it is) that can almost nullify the SNP’s presence at every opportunity, the British establishment is still utterly terrified of the alternative vision the SNP offers to the rUK. They fear that if the SNP is seen as competent and working for the people that elected them (oh, how novel an idea that is!) then the people in England and Wales might start to get some ideas.
Hence the demonisation in the right-(and even left) wing press.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow at times especially when we have Scotland’s very own state broadcaster asking stupid god-damned questions like ‘Was David Starkey right to call the SNP Nazis?’ – as if that’s a perfectly reasonable question and not loaded with inherently unionist bias from the off-set.
(Yes I said the ‘b’ word, sue me. I try not to use it often but it is suitable on appropriate occasions of utter contemptible pish.) So where do we got from here? How do we stop ourselves from descending into the bitter pit of despair and profanity?
It’s tough. There’s legitimate anger and the constant double-standards in reporting ‘online abuse’ – even amongst otherwise sensible journalists -leaves an acid taste on the tongue and a weariness in the heart. When you kick a dog often enough it’ll start to think it’s done something wrong or bite you. When you constantly tarnish one section of the population as nothing more than vile online abusive bastards, then these people will either settle down and do as you want them to (this is political motivated after all) or they’ll bite and tell you, in no uncertain terms, that you’re talking out yer arse.
Don’t like being told you’re talking pish? Then stop typing pish. Dislike you’re very heavily-slanted articles being called out for being very heavily-slanted? Then maybe you should take on some of the criticism – not abuse – that folk are giving you.
I condemn all homophobic, sexist and racist abuse from anyone of any party. I don’t care who you are -nat, unionist, Green, SNP, Labour – don’t do it. I don’t want that crap in my politics. That isn’t the Scotland I want my family, friends and kids (if I ever have them) growing up in.
But when you deliberately misconstrue some innocuous comments online, or blow-up abuse from some numpty on social media as ‘representative of the SNP’, then expect people to call you out on it. You’re not immune from criticism so stop conflating ‘criticism’ and ‘abuse’ as a get-out clause. It does a disservice to the genuine cases of online abuse and the people who have to suffer it. My advice? Keep up the good works folk. Continue to criticise, condemn and call-out shoddy journalism and hodge-podge news, but do it in a civil -if stern – manner.
We shoudn’t be afraid to speak up. We shouldn’t be afraid to criticise and go against the grain. Yet this current media narrative of ‘bad cybernats’ is intended to make us afraid, to silence us.
We’re marching to Mordor, one step at a time. Every day brings us closer to dropping that bloody ring into Mount Doom and freeing ourselves of the Dark Powers of corruption and greed.We may only be small, cybernat-hobbits, and the road may be taking us longer than we first thought, but we’ll get there if we just hold true to the beliefs that’ve stayed with us this far.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”
Stay the course folks. Sing a song. Have a laugh. Let’s bring back some of damned excitement and joy, eh?
T’is a long road…one hairy footstep at a time.
You can read more of Shaun Milne at light of the North
or on twitter at @shiny02
Featured image created by Brian Falconer