Would I lie to you? A celebration of closed minds at the Abbatoir

SMH political journalist Paul Sheehan assesses the Facebook page which must surely make even Tony Abbott blanche at the level of dislike aimed towards him when his honeymoon period has only just begun   http://www.smh.com.au/comment/welcome-to-the-abbottoir-20130915-2tsrm.html  Welcome to the Abbottoir!

Is the “celebration of closed minds” as Sheehan describes one of the worst websites around, a sign of our social media times?  While democracy is touted as one of Facebook’s strengths has a monster been unleashed where elements of the community have lost the ability to discern what should be expressed privately as opposed to venting publicly?

Howard Rheingold forsaw huge cultural changes in the mid 1990s as the effect of internet use on the individual ” ,,, are relationships and commitment as we know them even possible in a place where identities are fluid?  We reduce and encode our identities as words on a screen, decode and unpack the identities of others.”

Mark Poster, author of The Second Media Age wrote in 1995 that many have interpreted the success of ‘virtual communities’ as an indication that ‘real’ communities are in decline.  While the vilification of an individual such as a politician is an easy kicking post for all that is wrong with social media, is the en masse denegration of an invdividual a worthy reflection of how a real community should behave?  Is the price of democracy too high as the bar of common decency is lowered ?  Do we also take it at face value that 166,000 people expressed their view of Tone, or was it just a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands?

The ‘right of reply’ with social media is an important conundrum for any professional working in communications, so if you were one of the Prime Minister’s political advisors, at what point would you consider entering the fray of ‘social’ debate?


9 thoughts on “Would I lie to you? A celebration of closed minds at the Abbatoir

  1. The ‘right of reply’ on social media is one of its core foundations and something that certainly presents opportunities and challenges for communication professionals. Having read the article above and viewed some of the comments, really makes me question if identification on social media for people in western democracies should be mandatory. Seriously, would some of these people speak to their family and friends the way they have ‘spoken’ on this site? What’s happening to common decency, social manners and the basic tenet of respect for others?

    Sorry for the rant but seriously … people, either put up or shut up. Everyone in this country has the right of free speech, so why can’t you stand behind what you have to say.

    Back to the question at hand … to answer I refer back to my first paragraph … if you are prepared to stand behind your words and be transparent around who you are representing, then I would definitely respond. But I have very little time for trolls and cowards and those who are not open, honest and transparent. So would I enter the fray in question? I have better things to do …

    • Oh Liz … you can rant anytime. I think you would speak for the majority of people – it is sometimes very hard to understand where the moronic level of hatred comes from … and what is fuelling it. You are right, you probably have better things to do – but at what point do you stand up for yourself? The recent case of journalist Chris Kenny being pilloried on the ABC’s Chaser program, and the twitter reply his son Liam has put out, calling on his Dad, and the discussion this has engendered is actually a great example of when public comment can get overheated. http://junkee.com/in-defence-of-the-chasers-picture-of-my-dad-having-sex-with-dog/19967

  2. Challenging times – a public sphere full of pretenders, spies and perjurers. Think of the monsters social media have unleashed – but let’s not forget that these are the extremes in a forum that is also facilitating lively discussion, moments of empathy, free resources to the time poor and advocacy for the genuinely poor. Exposure, awareness, opinion seeking, ideas exchange – as with democracy, we have to take the trolls with the tall poppies. Probably the best mwechanism would be establishing a regulatory body of social media users – commericla and socila – and not having government as the authority.

    • Always the voice of reason Avril – you are right, these generally are the minority – but it can be alarming how quickly a herd mentality can takeover. A regulatory body to oversee social media use is definitely worth considering – even if people don’t want it, by discussing it there might be greater clarity about how to protect the values that social media seeks to uphold.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with Avril – we cannot have our freedoms without allowing others theirs as well, whatever this means. The philosophy of democracy means that every voice counts. EVEN the ones saying horrible things we don’t like. Trying to police what people say is an approach that smacks of authoritarianism and censorship. The question here is where that line should be drawn between democracy/freedom and censorship/control.

  4. As this is my first blog entry, which just shows I don’t really have much exposure to the subject, I did read the article last week and agree with Dilbert that regulation is required, but can’t help but think that as society becomes more disenfranchised, this is now the only freedom people feel they have and therefore vent accordingly.

  5. Hmmm … I wonder if the media could set a different tone and influence as its contribution to our social media times? How about using its voice to challenge policy, forge possibilities, stretch the thinking of our politicians and encourage a more interesting social debate etc. Too idealistic? On the other hand in Paul’s article we read about disenfranchised angry voices that already have enough exposure on their facebook page whatever their politics. And, as many of us don’t actually know T.A …. the opinions shared so readily on FB are mostly gained from the influence and snapshots provided by the media which are often completely inadequate.

    Perhaps a contributor to the general disenfrachisement is the lack of quality, impartial mainstream media in what is after a relatively small playground.

    Its difficult to navigate the highs and lows of the social media landscape – I have a view at the moment that the ‘lows’ may have the upper hand.

    • Hi different perspectives – that is certainly a different, and refreshing perspective! You can also never be too idealistic on this blog. So much of the attitudes towards social media have been shaped by how it is portrayed in the traditional media, and in some ways they have missed an opportunity to shape the influence for ‘good’ rather than ‘evil’. For so long they have focussed on the politics of negativity that results in a spiral of defeat, or who can get to the lowest denominator quickest creeps in. One area I think more work could have gone into is developing some ‘guiding principles’ of how social media can work positively, particularly when it is the vast majority that use it well and respect the views and opinions of others. Leadership in education on the rights and responsibilities, as with any other privilege in life, have been sadly neglected. I think you have hit the nail on the head re: quality, impartial mainstream media has been lacking, instead its been run by agenda driven people, with self-interest above nation interests. What do others think? Is it too late for mainstream media to be taken seriously and take on the responsibility of re-shaping social media in a better direction? IMc

      • Hi Ian…. Your comments are really interesting and I totally agree with the questions you are raising. I was only a few days back, talking with my sister and some friends about this and we agreed that technology has increased and sped up in our lives faster than our ability to manage the moral and ethical dilemmas it presents – ie the human side of the equation. Of course, as you say, a lot of people use social media properly. However the big powerful guns and others do not and their influence is destructive and often powerful.

        I was only thinking this morning, whilst working out at the gym trying to not think about pain 🙂 , that in a few hundred years or whenever, by the time humanity has been able to properly assimilate technology (if that happens) they may look back on us in early 2000’s as the confused period when proper protocols and manageable methods were not yet in place to live with technology. Just think about the challenge that email has presented – that has got to eventually resolve eaiser one would hope. Yes we could be seen as the techno dark ages.

        Love your blog !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s