This week, I have mostly been writing tweets. Facebook posts too. I have been working on how to convey my message as clearly and succinctly as possible to support and promote the #StandUp4Brixham campaign – and generally it’s working pretty well.
There’s been lots of work on the ground as well – since my leaflets were completed last Wednesday afternoon my iPhone estimates I’ve covered about 30km going door to door with Arthur in the sling. There was a meeting last Tuesday evening that Arthur also had to come to, and on Saturday we had a hustings event to talk to members of the public. It’s been nerve-wracking getting out there and speaking up, but I’ve enjoyed it too.
The social media side of things is an attempt to engage with people who might not normally be interested in local politics. The campaign has a growing Facebook page and twitter account with nearly 200 local followers between them. I’ve appreciated the support of local businesses with more established accounts sharing and retweeting my posts. And one of my tweets attracted the attention of my local MP and ended up in the paper. So far so good as far as profile-raising goes.
But there has, perhaps predictably, been a less pleasant side to putting myself out there.
It started with the comments at the end of articles on the local paper’s website, where amongst other things I was labelled a ‘rather sad individual who spends all of her waking hours gratuitously criticising [the leader of the Abolish Brixham Council group]’. Other commenters leapt to my defence, but it was a strange feeling to be insulted and accused of something I haven’t done by a total stranger.
Twitter has been even more intimidating. There are four accounts that have repeatedly targeted me through replies to my tweets, with exchanges like this one:
(BRATS, incidentally, is a group of local residents who campaigned against a Tesco development in the town centre. I have had no involvement with them despite numerous suggestions to the contrary.)
The tweet which sparked all this off – and more besides – was a link to a letter which had been published on a local news website. I really wasn’t expecting it to be so controversial.
Dear Brixham… http://t.co/OaBqMZLFNO via @BrixhamNewscom
— SBL Walker-Haworth (@StandUp4Brixham) April 16, 2015
There’s a lot that is strange about the accounts in question – the similarity between their names and the lack of followers for example. Were these exchanges happening on my personal account then I would not hesitate to block and report them. But I’m not sure exactly how I’m supposed to respond in my current role as council candidate – I am obviously very keen to engage with interested Brixham residents, but I have to admit that these communications are beginning to make me feel uncomfortable.
I realise as well though that, on the grand scale of things, there’s not really anything desperately offensive going on here. Twitter does seem to be a place where some people hide behind a mask of anonymity to behave in a way that they never would face to face.
So I will soldier on, draw on my years of experience working with challenging teenagers, and try not to take it too personally. One of the things it is clear could be improved about our local council is the quality of its communications and its transparency in working with people in its community. And I refuse to be intimidated out of my attempts to do just that.
Sounds like you’re dealing with the ‘unpleasant’ tweets well – I’d find that really stressful. I guess it puts you in a difficult position when you’re running an account from a professional perspective rather than you personal account. I agree that people can say things on Social media they’d never say to your face, and it is a worry. Those aggressive tweets are unpleasant, troll-like in fact I’d say. I feel uncomfortable reading them. Is there anyone you can ask for advice in this area? Wishing you lots of luck with it all. And thanks for linking to #WhatImwritingxx
When it comes to politics, you are always going to come up against strong opinions and people who don’t mind raising them. I guess it goes with the territory and its a case of ignoring it and developing a thick skin. Keep up with your message and don’t get involved in any of the nastiness.
I think if you’re entering a public world of politics, then yes, developing a thick skin is a must. I do feel that people find it easier to say things online that they would be unlikely to say face to face-and this isn’t always a good thing sadly.
All I can say lovely is keep on keeping on, sounds like you are doing a great job. I’m a firm believer that trolls should not be fed, rise above them and ignore. That aside, it’s all rather exciting xx
Good for you putting yourself out there and getting involved with things that matter in people’s day to day lives. I can only echo the others here by saying these arguments often come with the territory. Social media means we can express ourselves more widely than before, but so can other people! Shrug off the negativity – local politics and writing both require that thick skin!
You should not take it personally and brush these comments off.
It sounds like you are doing a fab job. xx
The politics of it all sound a bit daunting and scary but you’re dealing with it all very well. There’s always going to be negativity, some people just can’t help themselves. Good luck with it hun, glad to hear you’re going to keep soldiering on. xx
Pingback: Green fingers | Sophie is…
Pingback: Taking stock | Sophie is…
Pingback: What I’ve learnt from standing for election | Sophie is…
People on the internet being people on the internet. Sigh. It’s a horrid feeling when people are being idiots on social media but it is a side effect of putting yourself out there. As hard as it is, we have to try not to let these things get to us too much. It’s mostly because people forget there’s a human on the other side of a Twitter account. Hope the rest of the campaign went well! X
Things definitely picked up after this point! It is weird how people behave on social media….x
Pingback: Learning democracy | Sophie is…
Pingback: Learning democracy – Raising Revolutionaries
Pingback: What I’ve learnt from standing for election – Raising Revolutionaries