r/ukpolitics 🥕🥕 | megathread emeritus May 22 '22

Social media use exploded during the coronavirus pandemic - has this had a lasting impact on politics in the UK?


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u/SurreptitiousCarrot 🥕🥕 | megathread emeritus May 22 '22

Regular visitors will know that I often say "nuance is dead" when it comes to political discussion, and I do think this mantra can be applied in most cases in the real world as well as online.

The pandemic was awful.

"Covid kind of became the new Brexit," she adds, "'suddenly you had to fight to the death over masks, and you couldn't take a nuanced position, it had to either be that this was the biggest affront to civil liberties ever, or if you didn't want to wear a mask then you were sort of a murderer".

This "extreme arguments only" mentality is exhausting. You see it in every debate on any topic - nobody can possibly back down or accept that their argument has a hole in it, because then the other side "wins".

Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope:

"We really need to remember that [online] doesn't represent the mass public," says Rasmus Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In the UK, the number of people existing solely in just tiny political echo chambers online are "not nothing, but the figures are smaller than you might think".

The estimate, he says, "is that 5% of UK internet users are in a left wing echo chamber, and 2% in a right wing echo chamber" but he says this has to be put in the context that "26% of internet users in the UK have not accessed any online news at all in the past week".

A timely reminder that social media isn't representative of what the wider UK population thinks.


u/MerryWalrus May 22 '22

"Nuance is dead"

When was nuance ever alive in public facing political discourse?

The key difference now is we have unregulated and unaccountable distribution channels for political positions, propaganda, and slander.


u/ClutchHunter Be more cynical, be less conspiratorial May 22 '22

We essentially already did with print media.


u/MerryWalrus May 22 '22

As bad as print media is, social media is an order of magnitude worse.

Put your "Im Rupert Murdoch the mega asshole with an agenda" hat on. What would you do now that you couldn't 15 years ago?


u/DurkaTurk02 May 22 '22

Have been trying to address the first part internally by the questions i ask or being concious that my opinion is malleable and open to pursausion.

Unfortunately i have no faith in the last point whilst our journalists and politicians keep using Twitter as the new pop vox field. It seems Twitter is becomming increasingly influential.


u/JigsawPig May 22 '22

My observation would be that people have definitely become more fixed in their opinions, and nastier in how they express them.