Unity is the vaccine we need against the far-right and their dismantling of our values and society.
First published in August 2020.
Whenever I have spoken about my experience of being targeted by organised online bullies, there are invariably a couple of responses I will always receive.
The first is the ‘just’ block/ignore/mute reaction. As a fairly competent Twitter user, I know that these options exist. However, they don’t work if the people you are dealing with have identified you as a target and don’t need your reaction to achieve their goal of deplatforming you.
To deplatforming you all they need to do is either sow seeds of doubt in the minds of other Twitter users or, even simpler, make Twitter so unpleasant that you tweet less or stop altogether.
The ingenuity of the organised (criminal) online bullying I have experienced is that aspersions and innuendo are favoured weapons. Any attempt to defend yourself looks petty or make you appear to be the aggressor.
In my case, I ignored it for months until it contributed to a serious depression. As a result I stopped tweeting altogether and thus I was successfully silenced.
The effect on victims varies from person to person, obviously, but feelings of depression, paranoia, intimidation, and worthlessness are not uncommon. The fact I started tweeting again was largely due to a sense of responsibility for others and my being a bit of a stubborn cow.
The other reaction that always appears in my replies is the assumption that the bullies are on the opposite side of the political divide. However, the most effective organised online bullies are actor accounts, by which I mean accounts pretending to be something they are not (eg. pro-EU).
The people who targeted me pretended to be my friends. I trusted them, valued their opinions, and even helped one or two of them when they needed it. They gained my trust under false pretences and used it to their advantage. So while I ultimately know that they are fake pro-EU accounts, the vast majority of pro-EU Twitter is still blissfully unaware of the enemy in their midst.
Don’t worry though, we have achieved four arrests so far, and there will be more.
So how do we counter this? Obviously, investigating and getting arrests is laborious, and a hard route to take. In my opinion, the best way to counter them is to give them the opposite of what they want. They want us to shut up? We speak louder. They want us to stop resisting? We protest. They want disunity? We give them a dose of #Unity.
Unity, above all else, is what the architects of Brexit and populists fear most. This isn’t even about Brexit anymore. This is about decency, democracy, fairness, and human rights.
Unity is the force we need.
In fact, Unity is the vaccine we need against the far-right and their dismantling of our values and society.🔷