Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The conveyor belt of outrage - I've stepped off

I've 'sort of ' disengaged from Twitter. It's become such a festering hell site of anti-nuance, I've decided to observe, rather than participate. I can't quite bring myself to delete my presence, and I do need the platform when I want to punt out a blog (like this) so I'm working through the process of blocking the most aggro people who seem to love loading on to the conveyor belt of outrage, and easing it out of my field of vision.

I just don't need it in my life, so I'm starting the detoxification of my world by withdrawing from the places where the discourse is so shouty and angsty. One of my favourite writers, Ian Leslie, put it well, so I'm going to quote his passage in full: "Public debates are becoming more algorithmic and binary. You must pick one side or another, and when you do, there is always a ready-made script waiting for you to run. When Tory ministers defended Dominic Cummings over his trip to Durham, it wasn’t just what they said that was depressing but how: in a series of near-identical, robotic tweets. More of us are behaving like politicians. Every row on social media is conducted with a set of arguments, slogans and memes that each side – and in binary arguments there can only be two sides – faithfully deploy."

I guess Twitter is where the debate happens, and it's not just about politics, but sport, especially football. Elsewhere, despite the data scraping and social manipulation, I find Facebook to be more carefully curatable. LinkedIn is mostly corporate boosterism, but at least it has some useful well argued content. And Instagram? Ah well, Instagram is my new vice. It may be harmful for young people trying to live up to an aspiration of image perfection, but for me it's the comforting balm of aesthetic comfort and joy. I love the stimulating drip of goodness than oozes onto my feed, mainly outdoor landscapes, but also photos of food, art, weirdness, shoes, jackets, jeans, retro photos and more music ideas for our programme. The universe it creates is one of walks I want to go on -  the Camino, the Appalachian trail, the Wainwrights, the Munroes and the peaks of Snowdon - in boots and fleeces I want to wear. It gives me visual recall of cities and open spaces I’ve only got fading memories of, such the gorgeous South of Western Australian and the deep outback, oddities like Tallinn, Berlin, Marseille, rural Italy, Miami and many more. That's what I need in my life, something to look forward to. It's what we all need, frankly.  Call it escapism, but I’ve done with reality and I’m done with Twitter.


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