‘The space invaders’ (NI 530) – Vanessa Baird and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips’ excellent conversational analysis of the many negative aspects of social media – will have informed and reinforced a perception many have come to realize: these platforms are dangerous threats to both mental health and privacy, with the former often exacerbated by a loss of the latter.
I have experienced, and witnessed in the symptoms of others, the all-too-real consequences of negative social media interaction: increased low self-esteem, stress, withdrawal, despair. And all because of words: insensitive and spiteful words, yes, but words all the same.
I am a non-user, having once met with unprovoked vitriol (from one obsessive troll with absolutely no interest in debate) merely for asking an innocuous question, barely one hour after opening a Twitter account.
Power and principles
Re: The Big Story NI 530. We are told ‘liberals and progressives can exhale a sigh of relief’ but it is the very politicians they vote in whose lies have led to many of the problems described. Could a charlatan like Trump have been so convincing about ‘the swamp’ had America not watched Obama with that glass of water in Flint? Kamala Harris was seen ripping into Biden in the debates but then went on national television and laughed off her criticisms once the chance to be VP opened up. Liberal politicians more interested in power than principles have sown the seeds of distrust of the neoliberal establishment capitalized upon by the Right. Who can blame people for this distrust?
I subscribe to New Internationalist and my broad political and ethical views may be inferred from that choice. I am also a white man.
I am enjoying the current edition of the magazine (NI 530), but would like to share a concern. After conducting a simple audit of pictorial representations of people in it, I find that almost every picture of BAME people is affirming or at least neutral. The same for the white women. Quite right too. You feature lots of wonderful people. But not so the eight pictures of white men, which include, among others, Trump supporters, Polish nationalists and Jeff Bezos.
A Martian browsing the magazine might well conclude that white men are a distinct and inevitably evil species. It is arguable that they have made a nasty mess of running the world for the last few thousand years. However, I wonder whether it is in anyone’s interests to comprehensively demonize this huge, disparate group, whether intentionally, subconsciously or as an outworking of an editorial intention to build up others in the Majority World. I fear that is what you are doing by including only pictures of BAD white men.
It is just as easy to flip his narrative, and argue that a small vocal group of trans activists are loudly demanding biological women open up single-sex spaces. And try to bully them into doing so, by crying transphobia if they dare to disagree. Neither narrative is helpful: it polarizes the debate, reducing it to what the ‘others’ should be doing.
I have worked in spaces where women talked about intimate violence, often for the first time. I saw no evidence that the women that I supported feared trans-women as predators: they simply wanted support from other biological women to have one of the hardest conversations of their lives, and they do not need to defend this.
Complex debates about gendered spaces will be resolved by better understanding on all sides – and acknowledgement that it is not wrong to find these negotiations challenging. Moving towards better mutual understanding of the beautiful complexities of gender identities is not helped by another man, ie Agony Uncle, using his public sphere to lecture women on how we ‘should’ be behaving.
Why I... co-own New Internationalist.
I bought community shares in the New Internationalist co-operative when it first opened up to reader investment (in 2017). This is because I stand in solidarity with a magazine that shows us two real truths about our shared existence. Firstly, that injustice is global; secondly, that together we can change things. As an active member of the East Marsh United community group, I take heart from learning about all the people all over our planet who work to transform their communities for the better.
Let’s fight with courage and imagination to shape our world as the loving and nurturing place we know it can be.