Norman Geras, long a leading political blogger, has used an eve of Labour Conference seminar – Political Bloggers and the New Media Landscape – to call for greater civility in the political blogosphere1.
While Norm’s call was a popular sentiment, easily endorsed by fellow panellists Bill Jones of Skipper, and the Press Gazette’s Martin Stabe, I fear it will have fallen on deaf ears. Nor will we find a suitable technological solution; the psychology runs too deep.
Many dog owners will confirm that some mutts are far more aggressive on the lead than off. We might never know why and many assume they feel vulnerable tethered to their owners… but might it be that they feel protected?
It’s at this point that I have to plead guilty to giving any fellow car driver who blasts his horn in my direction the finger. I’d probably be more subdued out of the car, but then so would the object of my retribution. The car doesn’t offer anonymity, we can be seen and all are tagged by a number plate, but we feel protected. Online we could not be safer from physical confrontation, so some of us let rip.
Yet Norm is right to flag this up as a major obstacle to bloggers playing a significant role in political debate. Nobody is interested in being told they’re a c**t and name calling has never expanded the body of human knowledge.
Hats off to Kate, the Yankunian of the Manchizzle, who’s rapidly become the first place of call for all things blog related in Manchester, for organising the event.
1I hate this word, it really grates, but unfortunately it’s caught on.