surinenglish

THE MUSIC MAKER

Hear my voice

Sometimes, in order to avoid listening to the constant barrage of coronavirus related information on the radio - most of which, if we're honest, doesn't seem to be tripping from the lips of anyone who has a clue what they're talking about - I'll cast a cursory eye over TwitFaceChatGram where, you can bet your bottom dollar, nobody has the faintest idea about anything. At least they don't say 'ramping up' and 'rolling out' every thirty seconds, though, unlike our broadcasting chums, so that's a bonus.

One of the most astonishing aspects of how these platforms are used is by people who've had the same political views since Dan came down the river, and rejoice in making public their unbidden opinion. It works like this. Some sound engineer called Gary who you spoke to only once when you had to chastise him because he was wont to use more reverb than Phil Spector at a gig, pings you a friend request on TwitFace. You can't remember who he is but apparently you've got four friends in common and his profile picture doesn't involve a Yorkshire terrier so you accept. Soon, Gary is availing you of why, in his opinion, Trump/Sánchez/Johnson/Bob The Builder is an idiot and anyone who voted for them is an idiot and how the world is black and white and how Gary's right about everything including reverb.

Not to worry, you scroll past, leaving his mother and sister to click 'like' on his posts, no harm done.

Except there is harm done because the next day, the same thing happens and then twice or three times a day; in fact, every time you tune in hoping to watch penguins falling base over apex, the first thing you see is Gary's opinions.

The big question is this: what do people who put their political views on social media think is really going to happen? That loads of their contacts are suddenly going to come round to their way of thinking because of a meme involving Donald Trump and a bottle of bleach? That vast swathes of people are going to fall to their knees in admiration as they gaze upon the political wit and acumen of a sound engineer from Nuneaton? What actually happens is that ninety per cent of those whose eyes fall upon this stuff think 'Oh, ok, there goes Gary again, tiresome as he is predictable. Any penguins round here?'

Social media has given a voice to the voiceless. In theory, this could have been a good thing. In practice, so far, it's been anything but.