Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Suspension of belief/Trolling

I remember going to see an 'am-dram' production of The Best Little Whore House in Texas at the Portobello Town Hall, it was a while ago during an Edinburgh Festival. Not being a huge fan of musicals I wasn't overly taken by it, all the hooting and cawing, the drawling sheriff and shrill southern prostitutes - with the exception of the guy playing the sheriff (who was really good) I couldn't see past the fact that in real life they were a bunch of ordinary folk dressed up as cowboys and hookers.

Suffice to say Burt & Dolly did not appear in the version played at Portobello.

I also had a problem with the central theme, that they were fighting to maintain a whore house - really? Where women were regularly abused, slapped around by rough, disease-carrying chauvinist cow boys?

I'm prepared to accept I might have over-analysed somewhat, it was supposed to be a bit of mindless entertainment.

Its one thing to suspend belief for the duration of a bawdy musical but more and more the media have been relying on the Scottish public to do this with referendum coverage

We've all heard of the internet troll:
internet troll
Web definitions
In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response ...
The purest definition of an internet troll above is fairly exacting, a troll exists to 'sow discord', they tend not to have any motive beyond trouble making, the term cannot really be applied to any genuine contributor - from either side - on the independence debate. Using hyperbole to sabotage a debate - knowingly or not - does not a troll make.


Enter the 'Cybernat'.
Definition of cybernat
An informal name for a Scottish National Party supporter who uses social media and online forums to put forward the cause of Scottish independence.
The truth - if we are to suspend belief for a moment - is that a cybernat is a bad thing, cunningly though, there is no equivalent label on the unionist side. In manufacturing this online independence-supporting bogeyman, we're being asked to conflate an internet troll with a nationalist.

From the Wings Over Scotland site.
The Daily Mail has been engaged in an unprecedented attack on its definition of a cybernat - an internet troll hell bent on causing fear an alarm among those who oppose them. The headline above is what I'm calling the usual Scottish press front-bummery where if you read a little bit further you come to realise the headline was written by an arsehole - no one was unmasked because they weren't masked in the first place. By hinting at a certain secrecy around what its version of a cybernat is - a nefarious streak is inferred. It goes with out saying, these so-called cybernats are ordinary decent folk with an honest message.

What does that have to do with The Best Little Whore House in Texas? It goes back to suspension of belief.

By this time, you can't count yourself as a true cybernat if you haven't had at least one run-in with a prominent, out-spoken mouth piece for Better Together online in some form, be it Duncan Hothersall, Euan McColm or that complete buffoon John MacIntyre OBE (Woking.) When you read what they type, its as if they live in a reality where reason & logic work differently, you are expected to treat their assertions as rock solid fact while yours are rubbished. Precedence goes out the window in favour of far-fetched hypothesis and in the end when you don't agree, they pull about their narrow shoulders a cloak of faux indignation because you lost patience and branded them an idiot. (Through which they claim victory -the very essence of George Carlin's 'Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.')

But they're not trolls either - they're close, but however convoluted it may be, they have a discernible motive - to make people vote no.

There is one thing that separates unionist and independence supporters online, whether engaged in debate with each other or trying to convince undecided's - its that unionists have suspended their own belief in reality and assume others have too - the foundation of their argument is based on a rejection of what actually is.

Obviously I would say this but things that are self-evident - the economy, food banks, the deficit, the debt, armed forces redundancies, MOD spending silliness, Trident on the Clyde, rejection of the bedroom tax in Scotland, rejection of the sale of Royal Mail in Scotland; Scottish tax payers money being spent on the Olympics, on HS2 or the London Sewage system. Tory governments that Scotland did not vote for (surely doesn't require a link,) Labour not voting against something it claims not to agree with, expenses scandals in Westminster (again, do you need a link?) Expenses scandals in the house of lords - heck - the house of lords itself.

All of those things (and more besides) actually exist, yet Better Together proponents expect us to pretend it doesn't.

In unionists its a form of tunnel vision, they're not trolls per se any more than cybernats are. I'd be the first to tell any 'cybernat' to hush if they tried to give a 100% definite answer to certain questions, the nature of the debate won't allow it - its about what is likely.

The press - in the form of the Daily Mail in this instance - can't control what goes on on Twitter or Facebook, there-for it attempts to deride the characters and motives of those who use that medium.

We need a new label, if we who support independence are to shoulder the stigma of the cybernat, it seems only fair that unionists should have a similar cross to bear. The unionist online doesn't so much 'troll', the closest term so far is 'whatabouttery' - where they attempt to conflate something which isn't likely to be an issue with something that might be, (or in their benighted imagination - will be.)

I bumped into a true Facebook troll who was defending Vladimir Putin after a Panorama investigation over corruption at the Winter Olympics - but at the same time excusing homophobic legislation banning all & any information on homosexuality being given to under 18's. This was a case of 'chronic fence sitting' or 'auto-intellectual-stalemate' (a person arguing themselves into a position of moral & intellectual pointlessness.)

The trademarks of the online unionist seem to be; tunnel vision, prolixity, tangent, suspension of belief and illogicality.

Is it even possible to make up a pithy designation for such a tortured entity as the unionist online?

Answers on a postcard please.

In the meantime, when ever I am assailed by a Duncan, Euan or John MacIntyre OBE (Woking) I'll remember the amateur dramatic presentation of The best Little Whore House in Portobello - there will be no suspension of belief.

Sorry, I meant Texas.


  1. Pa

    I started calling Better Together Belter Together a few weeks ago on twitter and it seems to have struck a cord. Some people have asked if they can use it and I have had a few rude comments. The very same Duncan Hothersal blocked me, a badge of honour and some days when I have the time I follow him like 10 times to just make him have to block me a again.

    The Daily Mail attacks are just the next stage in the debate, they are are losing the arguments, they have little or no online presence. Even yesterday Carneys speech, mis-quited as doom by Belter Together, has failed to shift the vote although it is a little soon to know but going by the radio this morning it might actually have added some to the yes camp as people are getting really sick of being told that Scotland only survives on English money. Keep it up though as it pisses people off and turns them to yes.

    No, over the last few weeks you can sense a real change in the tide. People are far more openly talking about yes and when a no voter tries to fight their cause they are looking increasingly more out of touch. I'm not saying it's a definate YES in Sep but it will be very very close. I suppose Thatcher could return from the grave and start a war with Argentina or we might invade some rock somewhere, wouldn't put it past them or her for that matter.

    I did tweet this morning to Belter Together to ask them how it felt now that the fear is on the other foot, no one replied but not surprised. They are losing now, the msm are under increasing pressure about their lies and bias, the tide is turning. Wouldn't bet against an offer of a debate between Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Salmond though and then when turned down they can mump and moan.

    Interesting times.


  2. I agree.

    Its one of those things where you don't want to tempt fate and say anything. I don't know many folk, but most of those I do know are yes voters.

    As you say, I've sensed a bit of a change in the ether too, the No side may think the stories coming out of the DM etc are doing them good, but I suspect (feel) the opposite is true.

    They said the Indy march up Calton hill was preaching to the converted (I disagree, I well remember the crowds looking on seeing that we weren't a bunch of swivel-eyed nuts.) How can they not think an article about 'cybernats' in the DM is exactly the same thing? Do they think the undecided voters of Scotland will flock to buy a copy on the back of that dreck?

    I don't think so.

    Slow and steady will win this race.

    Thanks as always for the comment.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?