Social media has turned politics into a competitive slagging match

by .
Originally published in the Independent

The style and substance of political discourse is turning nasty. Why don’t we try some empathy?

Why is political language turning so ugly? In commentary and in the daily air war between opponents there seem to be fewer limits to what we can accuse other people of. Fox news say President Obama is a ‘pussy’, while the Mayor of Philadelphia calls Donald Trump an ‘asshole’. But it’s not just the style of politics that is turning nasty but the substance. Trump, again of course, is called a ‘Nazi’ and Isis are labelled as ‘fascists’. Neither label are historically or theoretically correct but who gives one? In the Labour party, to some narrower minds, if you back Jeremy Corbyn you are a Trot and if you don’t you are a Tory. What’s going on?

At one level it is the unwinding of decades of decorum and deference. Politics was the practice of well bred gentlemen who played by polite public school boy rules and the rest of us knew our place. But that bubble burst long ago and now more of us have a say than ever before. The internet and social media both help and hinder; Twitter means everyone with a smart phone is now a broadcaster and can say what they want to anyone they want. It democratises the chance for a variety of voices to be heard, but of course the more extreme you are, the more followers you will get.  Social media can also widen your scope of thinking or narrow it and twist it…

Full article originally published in The Independent. Read the full article here.

Sign up to be kept up to date