Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Boy Bloggers, Tory Think Tanks & an Absence of Expertise

I have been blocked by only a few people in my four years on Twitter. One thought he spoke for the left in the Independent and although I only made one comment criticising his casual rudeness about isiXhosa, I was blocked.(see an earlier blog)

Another speaks for whatever right wing hurrah is the current obsession and really does write, speak and tweet like a privileged school kid emerging from his darkened room. 

I think both stopped the link because I disagreed with them and said so. Both enjoyed the thrill of being little heroes to their respective followers and while dispensing criticism was their game they hated it when an argument was made that didn't fit their perception.

Then there is Toby Young, @toadmeister. Not only is his opinion sought on everything on the basis that he thinks he knows everything, but our government gave permission for him start a school and inflict himself on children! It was almost a badge of honour to be blocked by him.

I think blocking has to be used for a definite reason. Usually because of offensiveness or persistent unpleasantness. Unfollowing seems to me to be the right course of action in most cases.

I follow many people who have views I radically disagree with, but that seems to me to be the point. Hear an argument, dispute it when you can but still engage. Clearly, there might be exceptions. I don't follow anyone who blatantly supports racist organisations for example.

There are however, people on Twitter, (and most are male) who seem intent on becoming their own version of mini-celebrities. Unfortunately this medium and the news media encourage them by giving them access to speak about subjects they have no expertise in, only prejudices about.

These boy bloggers often delight in a series of throwaway insults to get attention. Sadly this is sometimes as prevalent on the Left as the Right. As a teacher, it reminds me of the playground behaviour of the loudest kids who can't argue a point successfully so end up shouting insults. I sometimes wish Twitter could be more like a staffroom conversation rather than the one behind the bike sheds.

To be frank many of the supposedly political bloggers are far more interested in building a media presence than arguing a point constructively. Tweet enough rudeness, blog enough rubbish and say you belong to a ThinkTank or a "political blog"  and #SkyNews and #BBCNews seems happy to invite you on. You can then spout crap to millions of viewers who don't know your "claim to expertise" is based on nothing but writing awfulness on awful websites.

So. I offer you a new ThinkTank from the comfort of my Basingstoke Sofa. It is available for comment on any and all topics especially education.

But like @MrHarryCole and his pub bore friends I will talk at length about anything. I may not know anything about the subject, but I will be happy to splutter cliche, nod enthusiastically and claim my appearance fee.

Isn't that what think tanks are for? Contact me at....

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