This week, I spoke to friend of mine, a writer. I hadn’t spoken to her in a while, and I wanted to let her know I wouldn’t be in London this month, after I realised it wasn’t a good idea to take Rachel to the Orwell ceremony. After what my friends have seen in the past year, they are wary of the culture ‘political writing’ exists in and didn’t want to expose themselves or her to it, regardless of how proud they are, and an offer of work had come in. When I spoke to her, her life had been raked over and she found herself having to consider the possibility of the attention of our current media culture on her daughter, if the press misrepresented events her life in the way that makes them famous. She isn’t famous, she just writes. I thought getting shit every time a woman I don’t know falls out with someone on the internet was bad.
The way the media behave with this stuff, is so predictable you can plan around it and hire a nice expensive PR firm to manage it(an option available only to the few who benefit from and perpetuate this culture). My advice was to get all her sex tapes together, get all her dirty secrets in a dossier and get them out in a oner to deflect attention, I’d chuck in mine which would make hers look tame. I said this is exactly the culture of intimidation that has allowed the culture of political media to fester.
Owen Jones tweeted that his partner had had a hack threaten to ‘out’ him, because he was public school educated. Dating someone who appears on Newsnight and wrote a book, not only enough to justify that kind of intimidation, but enough to ensure it is expected, I am not sure whether it was sexuality or a public school education they were going to distort to humiliate and intimidate. With the warped morality of these shit flinging monkeys who knows? I have seen journalists younger than my stepkids, with editors who have shaped their entire career so they would take the endless misogynist shit that defines that culture, wondering how to protect their younger siblings and parents from the specific attention of ‘respectable’ and noteworthy shitflinging media monkeys.
Journalists can’t really complain in an industry where social network is all, and not upsetting thugs and gangsters is important for your employability. We have all seen the value moronic shitflinging monkeys have to political circles, and how far they progress.
The advice don’t feed the trolls, doesn’t work if the troll is a political party or news organisation, or tribalists swarming on command. It is victim blaming by those who create the problem.
The surveillance, muckraking, downright fabrication. defamation and intimidation that define our political press is now normalised for the creepy guy who thinks that is acceptable behaviour to someone he has absolutely no connection with. Even if it isn’t normalised to those he targets.
So let’s try a different tack.
That culture is not only done and dusted but on trial. The media might not want a distinction made, but we need to sort the difference between ‘political writing’ and this shitflinging monkey wheel. Very different. Traditional political media techniques, plus the interwebs, equals shitflinging monkeys turbo charged. Add a gangster and a few boy-tribes and you have a culture of all out intimidation that is normal to no-one but those involved, no-one with an ounce of sense would expose their family to.
I won’t be crying if it turns out someone found out I was less than perfect in 1997, I am a knob quite often and wrong more often than am right, there is ample footage evidencing that and god knows what else. Perhaps now the media are mixing with the public a bit, they should address the culture they bring with them, and learn that most of us do not live with delusions of infallibility. Nor do we wish to have them projected on to us so the abusive and criminal nature of this ‘professional’ culture can be justified. There is no other profession in which this culture could be justified without a tabloid outcry or a prosecution.
I don’t live by the ‘moral’ code of our political press and I know a culture of gangs and intimidation when I see one. Who would voluntarily get on the commentariat coconut shy in it’s current state, and why should writing about politics mean you have to be able to protect your family against intimidation when it clearly doesn’t pay enough to do so? I am luckier than my friend, my main trolls are fantasists who project dysfunction on to me and shriek loudly if I point out their behaviour is disturbing from people I have absolutely no voluntary connection with. Neither can maintain their fantasy with more than a few people at a time even if they occasionally find amplification on the shit flinging monkey wheel. Internet noise.
Our political media establishment has drifted on a lack of accountability, to moral and intellectual bankruptcy. I would quite like them to take responsibility for the toxic culture they have created, and hope the generation of writers come after them who make political writing into an art again, social media casualties are unlikely to merit a mention in future. But our families are NOT paying the price for a culture created by corrupt politicians and journalists and editors who bring everyone down by using that job title when they behave like the mafia. No-one is under any obligation to be subject to that.
Trolling and intimidation is not a by-product of writing I’ll accept. It is a by-product of a media and political culture that is defined by such behaviour, and these days you don’t need to be part of that culture to write. The privilege of keeping your thoughts in a blog or writing an article, not really sufficient justification. Nor is a part in a soap, or a movie deal. If you think that is supposed to be the consequence of your professional culture, I would address your lack of perspective and moral values before mixing with the general public and assuming they want to join. Given the amount of power that USED to lie in the media’s hands, the routine use of intimidation should have raised serious questions about our democracy a lot sooner. I can’t see many people protecting the finer feelings of our trolls and press and pretending it is anything but what it is from now on.