In common with 1848, 1968, 1989 and 2011, 2020 is already being celebrated as a year of revolt. Nation states are not threatened by these revolts. Political systems will not be demolished. However, this new spirit of insurgency not only reflects the grievous social and economic toll of the pandemic, but also the forces that have driven upheaval since the 2008 financial crash: wage stagnation, unemployment, austerity, inter-generational inequality, social media and political polarisation.That's 6 forces listed; five of which I agree with; one I do not. Do you recognise all 6 descriptions as complete enough? Perhaps you think I'm splitting hairs in suggesting that commentators are failing to distinguish between a technology as a cause and the use of that technology as the true cause of the problem. So to me, "Social Media" is not a problem at all, but these three aspects of its use are a potential civilisation-breaking problem:
- lack of ethical standards or clarity
- lack of mindfulness in applying one's face to face ethical standards when on line
- lack of accountability (due to anonymity etc) on Social Media are generating problems.
Perhaps the primary vested interest of all magazines or TV News programmes is to show that they are the most legitimate source for considering the issues in whatever they deem the "proper way". Here are three examples of what "the proper way" to present news and the world around us may be:
- "Class War and the need for Dictatorship of the Proletariat"
- "The need to end Civilisation as we know it" - if we look at the historical example of Green Anarchist Magazine and Green Anarchist Statement of Intent, valuable touchstones in any Politics101 course*.
From a media agency that prides itself on it's impartiality, the BBC, via the journalist Amol Rajan, here's a direct attack on Twitter as unfit for purpose in these times:
"It is worth saying that this is a very difficult & toxic area where people on both sides receive the most horrendous amount of abuse and I'm afraid Twitter is just not the place to have these conversations; it has dissolved into a kind of Hobbesian war of all against all. Twitter is slow to remove abuse; there's huge scope for insult before you violate policies there, many users are anonymous and if there is a moral to this story it is that the more complex, sensitive and emotive the subject, the less useful, I think, Twitter is to discuss it" (BBC "News at One", 11th June 2020)Whilst I hope for, and ask you to discuss, Twitter to split its service into two tiers according to the verification of identity or the anonymous, enabling choice as to which one participates in and what can be expected in terms of #DeeperAccountability.
Without change in how Social Media is provvided to us, the responsibility of ours is to use it withina clear ethical framework. I offer below the 5 ethical questions I keep asking myself and then an outline of what "Right Effort" is: