Wednesday 21 February 2018

Anton Savage on Cian Healy's 'blue wall' tweet: He thought the whole thing was a new trend, like over-hyped doughnuts

Cian Healy
Cian Healy

Anton Savage

Cian Healy's recent embarrassment on Twitter should teach us all something about the effectiveness of social-media campaigns as tools of attitude change.

The Leinster and Ireland front row dropped himself in a bit of hot water by tweeting "ya ain't alternative unless you're in front of a blue wall these days". He fired off the tweet because of, as he put it "Ignorance on [his] part to what the 'blue wall' was. Merely reacted to seeing it all over [his] timeline".

The blue wall in question is in Temble Bar and once displayed a mural demanding the repeal of the 8th Amendment (inset), but is now solid blue after it was found to be in contravention of planning laws.

Many pro-abortion campaigners lashed back by taking pictures of themselves in front of said blue wall which they then shared on social media, striking a blow at The Man and generally undermining the establishment and making our great nation safe for right-thinking people again.

Their passion is laudable. Their methodology perhaps not so much. Social media is a great platform for making campaigners feel good - things trend, you get immediate responses, you discover an entire community of people who feel the same as you, who care as you do, who act as you do. You feel belonging, support, and pride.

The problem is, as joyous as online campaigning may be, it can't be relied upon to actually change minds. Cian Healy is proof - he saw a whole bunch of tweets about a blue wall and decided it was a new trend, like over-hyped doughnuts or the ice-bucket challenge.

If an active twitter user like him can't be bothered to work out what the campaign is even about, what are the chances a floating voter will pay attention long enough to have their opinions changed?

These social media adventures do no-one any harm, but despite being self-reinforcing for the participants, they often do precious little good. Changing minds happens face-to-face. So maybe the thing to stand in front of is not a wall, but a stranger's door at which you are about to canvass?


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