DIGITAL,  WELLBEING

Divided even more

Today marks a day of a very long journey for me. Since June 2016 I was quiet, I lost my voice. Back then, a few days before the Brexit referendum, I posted a quick note about the meaning of the vote. That post marked an end to an era in my experience of technology. It was also an end of a difficult 6 months of watching the pre-Referendum campaign unfold in front of my eyes and feeling really helpless. Even really social media savvy people took on sharing posts promoting lies about EU not realising that this actually helped the reach of those messages. Discussions about echo chambers only really started when Trump actually won. We have started to learn the truth about social media: its landscape and underlying mechanisms reflect how we work as humans. With the help of algorithms but also very basic human biases, we forgot about echo chambers. We became vocal when some of our opinions should have remained offline. I know many of my friends do not agree with this still up till this day, but I see we are finally learning from Facebook’s scandals. In the recent reactions to Christchurch events, for instance, I have, for the first time, noticed a lot of sentiment around NOT MENTIONING facts not to promote them towards biased audiences.

I call this process resistance. It’s a new word in our new digital reality but I think it works. We do not have to tolerate racism and the divide our political leaders are aiming to cover up their own mistakes. We simply have to resist sharing all our points and think a bit more strategically how our opinions travel in social networks. Do not forget that in social media marketing a mention, any mention (even negative one) is marked as positive for a brand – because any mention is better than none. So the best thing we can sometimes do is…remain silent. Not speaking can be an act too.

“Devolved Parliament” by Banksy

Today also marks the day when I am coming back to my more opinionated self. I spent months, years by now, learning more about digital wellbeing. I dived into psychology again to understand our biases. I started figuring out how we communicate online and what is the essence of our digital humanity. Today I know it is the choices that shape us. We all have the ability to act or to remain passive, to speak or to hold silence, to hurt or to protect others. And so as we are going through the really difficult part of the Brexit process I am wondering: what are we learning today? I personally start to see the value in both speaking up and in remaining silent – but both in the right times, strategically. In resistance, but also in active response to abuse and in risking to take a stand.

In the spirit of this new realisation I have visited the Bristol Museum to see the old Banksy work – a very relevant artwork indeed. It was brought back for the tenth anniversary of Banksy’s museum takeover, but it is pretty obvious that it is yet another response to the current political events. I am really glad that some people do take a stand, in a smart way. I really hope that that the next few weeks will bring kindness and unity back to the UK and to Europe, because we are ever so divided. I personally am really fed up with it and will blog on the mental health impact of those events more.

For now I would love to know what you have learned from the last few years of Brexit and the rise of less tolerant movements in Europe and what was the role of social media in this process?

2 Comments

  • Andrew Stretton

    We are still not quite at the endgame. We have therefore either learned that the British democracy is robust or that it flatters to deceive. Those who criticise the chaos are saying that they want a more technocratic system or a more authoritarian system as there is in other European countries. It was telling that the Greeks saved the British at the last EU conference. They know what it is like to have the full weight of the antidemocratic tendencies of the EU against them. They like us have a tradition of parliamentary as opposed to figurehead governance. If the house of commons wants no deal then we deserve the bed we must lie in. If on the other hand a unity government forms to deliver a compromise Brexit we can start healing our wounds and the rest of the EU can better integrate around the Euro. If there is an election then a referendum then we will see whether a more truthful kind of politics can emerge. I for one doubt the strength of the far right in the UK the European movement is better organised. The casual racism of the masses and their misunderstanding of our Constitution is a bigger problem than the far right. I continue to hope that love can triumph in the end, we shall see.

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