9 August 2011

Yesterday on Twitter... #londonriots

I went through three stages of emotion looking at my Twitter feed yesterday - confusion, amusement, and then downright despair. I find it hard to comprehend what's been going on in London, what motivates these rioters, what the cause is. Twitter answered none of these questions. What it did expose was how nasty and callous some political activists can be.

I must first address the jokes. Most were tasteless, some were stupid, few were funny, and all were unnecessary. I can understand why people make jokes in an incomprehensible situation. It's a way of coping. But looking back over them, I can't help feel that those who wrote them probably ought to question their appropriateness. I'm one of them. I tried to make light of the heaviest of situations. I shouldn't have.

However what really angered me, and what provoked me into hitting the 'new post' button right now, is seeing the political agendas being tagged onto these horrid events. I saw my allies do it as well as my opponents.

Left wingers stated that this proved that the government's cuts were having devastating repercussions.

Right wingers stated that this proved that multiculturalism has failed, and that the youth of today had no morality.

Liberals stated how this proved that allowing the government to tread on our civil liberties causes serious repercussions.

Fascists stated how this proved that immigration had ruined our way of life and must be stopped.

Anarchists stated how this proved that if the government is allowed to steal property, it will mean citizens stealing each other's property too.

I saw all of these exclamations yesterday. If I was being kind, I'd file these opinions as "guesswork at best". As they tumbled onto my screen, I tried to make sense of them. But it was like trying to find meaning in randomly generated numbers. As they continued pouring in, it actually became funny. I began chuckling at the desperation some people clearly must feel to constantly justify their political persuasion. But they didn't stop. As London went up in flames, along with countless livelihoods, there were still people determined to manipulate the situation to preach their political gospel.

Why are these people interested in politics? I thought the whole point of it was to secure positive outcomes for people's lives. When the worst hits, and all you're thinking of is the propaganda, why are you doing it?

There are so few facts about what is going on and the events that led up to it that we can't draw any conclusions. I don't pretend to have no gut instincts myself, but no-one needs to know about the contents of my gut. The only thing I know for certain is that anyone drawing proof of any underlying political argument from this is telling you more about themselves than they are about society.

And yes, it may be that one or two of the answers that are out there may turn out to be accurate. I can guarantee that whoever wrote them will let you know about the accuracy of their insight. But that random number generator will also occasionally give the correct solution to a problem too.

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