Play On, Earnest People – Politics online and ignoring the Circles of Jerks

To Be Earnest or Not to Be Earnest

There’s a lot of earnest people online. People who want answers, people who respond to journalists and others who post declamations and statements. What these earnest people don’t realise is that there are few things considered to be a weakness on social media – being earnest.

I have written extensively about online “megaphones”, pushing the same message again and again, and their lack of impact on the way news is reported and the way emphasis is placed.  They are amongst the most earnest people around.  I once criticised this approach to social media, because of that lack of impact.  But my attitude towards them and their posting has changed.  It does make an impact – but just not on journalists online. There’s a solid set of reasons for that.

The Greater Importance to be a Cool Shitposter

Twitter, for a number of journalists, political staffers and their extremely online circle of adoring fans is place to do some shitposting.  Posting snarky, humorous stuff on twitter that is mostly inconsequential to anyone other than the circle.  Escalating competitions of how funny people can make situations and events seem.  Insults, “burns”, “owns”, inside jokes and the like.  Just Jokes, as two Year 9 boys would say after being caught “playfully” scuffling on the playground.  Mystifying to most people.

It’s become a thing that detachment, sarcasm and being perceived to be cool in these circles is paramount to most of those journalists – especially those who work for more right wing publications. It’s quite the contortion to appear cool whilst working for publications that employ Andrew Bolt and Chris Kenny.

It is within this circlejerk of shitposting that has led to a dismissive tone of responses to the earnest on twitter.  It goes generally along the lines of “don’t @ me” or “cool story, bro” – as in, leave me alone earnest person, I want to do some shitposting with my mates.

This shift has meant that in political and journalist twitter, social media is now part platform for advertising articles and part visible private club (think the Pool Bar at Ivy than the Melbourne Club). It is in this environment that these same journalists and staffers have little trouble gaslighting critics of their work, accusing them of harassment and other things – even if there are reasonable critiques being offered. It’s much simpler and cooler to gaslight nobodies and getting laughs from their fan club than to engage in a reasoned discussion with the earnest.

The Importance of Being Earnest

To see the gap between the shitposters and the earnest on Twitter, we can examine one of the more recent repeating Australian political memes, that of the ScoMo Bus. The original photoshops did the rounds for a couple of days, but then we saw the split between cool shitposting twitter and earnest twitter. Earnest twitter continued with them, maybe not doing “quality”, but continuing to laugh at the hubris of the bus, ensuring that the image did the rounds of Facebook for their non twitter friends.

I will admit that I fell into the same pattern of being too cool to continue to like the bad photoshops. But then I decided to throw myself into the activity (as shown below) and realised it’s just so much fun. I got over myself and realised that people engage and interact in whatever way gives them happiness and connectedness, in a way that respects earnestness as well as being out of touch from the nuances of insider, all-knowing shitposting.



This is why I have changed in my attitude towards what I have called megaphones in the past.

It is important to be earnest about things that matter – we need to stay true to ourselves in a time when it’s too easy to fall into despair and an existential malaise. There’s a lot of things that matter in society and there’s too many people who detach themselves from having emotions and passion about such important things.

Ultimately, it’s better for everyone who wants to be earnest and seek answers to ignore those journalists who just want to shitpost with their mates. Responding to them is pointless. They will never respect you, so why respect them.  Continue to push for change and have fun doing it.