A few days ago I wrote a long multi-post responding to the dumbing-down and memeification of political discourse, particularly from Erin O'Toole, and posted several of his insipid graphics as exhibits. It was well-received but a few people noticed a problem as well. #cdnpoli 1/12
Several replies, particularly from @Proy_TO (credit where due) noted I was signal-boosting this content. That's a fair point. Sometimes, scrolling through, we see the same dumb thing posted and reposted. And no matter the motive in reply, we still keep seeing it. #cdnpoli 2/12
Memes are dangerous for exactly this reason. It's part of why memeification works. If someone's attention only takes in the graphic, and not my text above it saying "here's how this is lying to you" then by posting the graphic at all I'm spreading O'Toole's message. #cdnpoli 3/12
At the extreme, it's even been pointed out to me that I'm reaching people who may have blocked O'Toole, or otherwise curated their social media to avoid seeing right-wing content, and I'm bringing it in like a Trojan Horse. #cdnpoli 4/12
And yet, what's the alternative? I firmly believe political silos are part of the problem. We are all guilty there. When we control what we see and who we speak with too closely, we all stop speaking the same language at all. Stop even believing in the same facts. #cdnpoli 5/12
Also buried in the various discussions that took place were unexpected agreements across political lines, appetite at least for complexity. And a few fair questions - is O'Toole really pitching simplistic and dumbed-down politics, or just playing to the medium here? #cdnpoli 6/12
In reply I'd say Twitter doesn't need to be simplistic. If I can manage more, and reach a wide audience with it, surely O'Toole's paid staff can do the same. And maybe there's an audience waiting for that, too. I really don't believe all conservatives are stupid. #cdnpoli 7/12
If there's a risk of signal-boosting a message I don't agree with, I think that's a risk worth taking. Protecting ourselves from dissenting views doesn't make politics better - it just ends the conversation. And I do believe there's potential for conversation, here. #cdnpoli 8/12
This goes back to what we're all here for. If we're just the cheering sections for our various political teams it's only a competition to yell loudest. When real discussion happens it's among adults somewhere else, and we're just noisy children. I reject that. #cdnpoli 9/12
I will add this, however. If someone posts something dumb just to get attention, and I repost it saying "look at how this is dumb!" just to get attention - I'm no better. It all contributes to the degradation of our shared political space. And that's to be avoided. #cdnpoli 10/12
Many will say that Twitter isn't for - cannot be for - a complex exchange of ideas around politics. I disagree. At other times I'd be putting a sign on my lawn or lining up for 30 seconds at the microphone in a town hall. Is that really better? #cdnpoli 11/12
Every opportunity to talk with one another is a chance to find common ground. We bridge that divide with complexity, not with slogans. I may risk sharing things you'd rather not see. But I'll at least try to say something worthwhile when I do. That's my promise. #cdnpoli 12/12
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