Some of you may have avoided the toxic cesspool of Twitter, but let me tell you it’s been rough on some of the journalists because, well, sometimes people disagree with them.
Let me be clear here, I am aware that there are comments that go too far and rather than address the area of disagreement, they attack the person in ways that they probably wouldn’t do, if they were face to face or even if they used their actual name instead of something like Suckitupsnowflake. However, I’ve noticed a definite pattern when it comes to certain journalists which goes like this:
Journalist tweets about a Labor or Green politician complaining about something they’ve done or failed to do.
People on Twitter respond by suggesting that said journalist is not being even-handed. This is done on a sliding scale from calmly pointing out that the journalist does not seem to applying the same standards to the Liberal or National Parties all the way to suggesting that if the particular tweeter had their way, said journalist would be subject to such indignities that Vlad the Impaler would seem like a humanitarian. Somewhere, in between there are people accusing the journalist of some combination of bias/being part of a protection racket/lacking in basic humanity.
Said journalist responds by saying that any criticism fails to understand that the job of the journalist is to hold people to account and that people criticising them are just part of the cancel culture who don’t want to hear anything against their side of politics.
At this point, people respond asking them why they don’t ask Scott or Gladys difficult questions.
Journalist laments what a terrible place Twitter is, gaining the sympathy from other journalists who agree that there was no bias and that they were simply asking the hard questions, and all the journalists commenting will completely ignore that the particular controversy began – not from a question – but from a statement on Twitter suggesting that the aforementioned politician had been responsible for a massive failure. While this may sometimes be true, it’s also true that not everyone will necessarily agree. I mean when I say, for example, Barnaby Joyce is the most honest politician in the country, I should expect that some people may point out that he has been known to keep the odd secret from the electorate.
Now I’m not suggesting that all of the comments made to/about certain journalists are always fair and well-considered. I’m just suggesting that if you stick your head up and say something that not everyone agrees with, you’re bound to get some sort of response. Over the years, I’ve tended to find that responses about what I’ve written fit into five basic categories:
Category 1: Praise, thanks and admiration. (I suspect that no journalist complains about these. Certainly I don’t so keep it up!)
Category 2: An intelligent comment about what I’ve written which basically agrees but may add something or pick out a point where they disagree or an intelligent comment that has nothing to do with what I’ve written but the writer had an idea and couldn’t think what else to do with it. (There’s probably no need to respond to these because I’ve already had my say, but if the mood takes me, I might. I certainly don’t object to people having theirs.)
Category 3: Someone who disagrees with me but is actually mounting an argument which enables me to see why they disagree and gives me the opportunity to understand where our points of difference are. (It may be worth responding to such people even if you are Chris Uhlmann or an ABC journalist but one shouldn’t be upset that people actually have an different opinion even if it is about a federal minister that you’re having a close personal relationship with… On a strictly platonic basis!)
Category 4: Someone who disagrees with me and has a completely different world view and tells me that either that I will burn in Hell, if they believe in the concept of an afterlife, or that I should go to hell, if they don’t. (In both cases, merely pointing out that I have no way of knowing where it is, so could they please lead the way is the only appropriate response and to expect them to do anything other than enter into a slanging match is rather silly.)
Category 5: The trolls. (The aim of these people is to deliberately throw you off and disrupt your game. A number of years ago I created a “How to” guide for dealing with such people but there is no point in trying to reason with them. Neither is there any point abusing them. These people are Sam Newman. The only reason they exist is to either count our blessings that we are not them or to make us angry. Their aim in making us angry is to us into fellow travellers, so that they are not the only misshapen creatures turning away from the light of reason.)
To me, it seems so simple. If the only reason that you’re on Twitter is to complain about all the other people on Twitter complaining about what your say on Twitter then I suspect you should get off Twitter…
Unless you enjoy complaining.
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