Saturday 24 February 2018

Darragh McManus: Cyberspace is overrun by mean-spirited idiots

Cheerleaders for social networking and new media often make grandiose claims: this is the future of news gathering and distribution, the cutting-edge of evolution. Print, television and other "traditional" media are soon-to-be-extinct anachronisms. But are they right? And if so, is this a good thing?

I'm not sure on either count, particularly the second. If February's ballot-box skirmish was the first general election "fought online", this is the first Twitter-centric presidential election. It's undeniable that the internet is now central to events, at least to a point, across the smorgasbord of newsfeeds, forums, blogs and "old media" websites, such as this paper's and RTE's.

Twitter is the hub, though, the organising brain. Virtually any mention of the election, anywhere online, will pass through: referenced, linked, recommended or decried. Used properly and maturely, it's a brilliant resource. But there's a problem with all this: and that problem is tone.

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