Since Brexit was announced, its political fallout has affected the country in many different ways. One of the more noticeable of these was the steady rise of intolerance that has swept the UK since June. This ‘othering’ process that has gripped our society has been relentlessly catalysed by traditional media and it shows no signs of abating whilst Murdoch et al. deliberately obfuscate the understanding of so many.
The reasons behind this phenomenon are the same as always – a tabloid culture that uses bigotry and confusion in order to hide the hideous consequences of decisions that consign millions to economic misery. So much for taking back control.
But how can this tide be stopped, or at least mollified using the printed word?
In an age of instant connectivity, a handful of powerful individuals can still effectively manipulate the contours of public discourse in a manner conducive to their needs. Hasn’t the widening of access to information, so beautifully facilitated by the internet, had any effect on this particular power relation? The capacity to educate has never been easier, and in a time of acute political disaffection, the need has never been greater. In spite of these technological developments, little has been achieved in terms of harnessing the full didactic potential of technology in the 21st century.
The result of the EU referendum was indicative of a chasm in British society which no discernible attempt was made to bridge. An open national conversation about the causes of society’s ills was sorely needed, but no alternative solutions were ever effectively proposed. The consequences of this outcome will now have to be borne for decades to come.
The disempowerment of ordinary people brought about by Neoliberalism has left a nation bamboozled by the jilted diagnosis of its own condition – the same interpretation to which it turns when the opportunity is rammed down its throat by the media. Is it surprising that such an act of self-harm came about? Perhaps the duplicitous nature of our national dialogue meant that such an outcome was inevitable, albeit all too avoidable.
But what of the rise of social media such as Twitter and indeed websites such as the one you happen to be reading from? Surely these outlets allow almost any voice to be heard in a matter of seconds by almost anyone else. Why aren’t the most powerless able to use the internet to articulate their grievances? Couldn’t this engender a debate fuelled by the feelings of those who feel strongly about a particular issue?
The usage of the internet as a source of information is disproportionately higher with the younger generation, with much of the content reflecting this. What is to stop this platform being shaped by the separations that exist between the generations in the UK?
It appears that much of this kind of impassioned dialogue serves to act as a buffer zone, with little or no sentiment venturing beyond the confines of the hardwire that supports it. This isn’t a fault of the internet, but rather a shortcoming of its adaption by society. However, all is not lost. The internet is brimming with enthusiasm for change. There’s no conceivable reason why this vast and largely untapped potential couldn’t be harvested effectively.
Indeed, the grouping together of similarly minded people from all over the world has led to some fantastic developments such as the Occupy movement, a movement that grew out of the Arab Spring and activism of the Indignados in a manner that was as unprecedented as it was unpredictable.
Whilst no-one has a crystal ball, in the words of the great poet Langston Hughes, quoted recently by the Labour leader: “And I see that my own hands can make, the world that’s in my mind.”
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