The 20th Century has seen many things, the unstoppable rise of globalisation spread ever further being key among them. The main reason for this is the enhanced connectivity mass internet usage has brought us; the internet has enabled us to do many things; chiefly social networking and the aberration which has become Twitter. Now, don’t get me wrong, like John Snow of Channel 4 news, I am a big fan of Twitter. It gives me access to articles, reports and other information which otherwise I would be without, it has become a necessary academic resource along with being a resource for staying informed. However, this connectedness has come at a price, the opening up of public opinion and the often seething madness and ignorance which lurks underneath.
In times of yesteryear activists were people who would campaign for something. They would work with organisations, start protests, and write articles and speeches. The twentieth century saw some of the greatest activists in history, from Martin Luther King to Emily Pankhurst. They would directly try to make a change often succeed and make history, even where people failed they were remembered. Sadly in the age of the internet and the rent-a-gob, anyone and everyone has become an ‘activist’. This has led to people honestly believing they are activists by shrieking at others in rants over the internet, or by demeaning those who have slightly different points of view. This isn’t activism and it has led to an aberration of public discourse; where arguments are often not had on the merits of a point but on typing furiously in capital letters and screeching that you must be a sexist, racist, type in a bigoted group here.
Not only is the tactic ugly, it is counterproductive. Immigration despite being an overwhelming success story in Britain, if you look at the economics and the cultural value which migration adds nothing could be further from the myth that migration has been ‘bad’. However despite attempts to try and convince people that migration is good on the overwhelming merit of the argument, many ‘activists’ have resorted to shouting and screaming that ‘migration is good’. What this has led to, hasn’t been a reformation of attitude, but a hardening of it. There is a reason why UKIP are so popular in areas of the country and this new ‘activism’ has had no small part to play.
Not only has this aberration given rise to verbal abuse but it has given rise to a new breed of ‘commentator’ who are unqualified for their positions. Mo Ansar and Katie Hopkins are chief among the commentators with absolutely nothing to contribute. Neither have any expertise in their areas where they comment, with Ansar sailing horribly close to the wind in misdescribing what he actually does, has done and what his qualifications are. Ansar is also guilty of overstepping the mark in the area of bullying, when he falsely accused the award winning broadcaster Iain Dale of islamophobia he overstepped a mark which any decent person would stop at. Hopkins is merely big mouthed with a relatively small brain but with enough cranium capacity to know how to offend. Rather than relying upon experts in areas, too often television programmes rely upon people who merely are big on twitter. What twitter has done is give the perception that everyone who can talk is an expert and must know what they are talking about. This has led to the twitter sphere being flooded with misinformation and new ‘activists’ shouting about the awful woes of modern western society.
For activism to find its former self and become the genuine mobilising force that it once was, it needs a radical change. Real activists need to assert themselves above and beyond the large crowd which now appropriates their hard fought title. I hope it can regain its credibility; I myself have been an activist and will be volunteering for a political party at this general election. For genuine activists to throw off the shackles of the twitter mob will be difficult and scary, but it is the only way to regain their movement.
By Sam Mace, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.