Or a chill pill.
The notion that connected national identities based on culture and collaboration are a step up from ugly, populist nationalism isn’t such a hard sell. Particularly when scratching below the surface reveals a much richer culture based as much on communities and shared experiences as on kings and battles.
The recently added Pictish Sculptures page is, perhaps, an example of what gets lost in the rush to polarise and politicise. Is there another developed country in the world where a network of national treasures would be left slowly crumbling in fields? (Probably somewhere, but not that I’m aware of).
The point being that denying a culture creates a vacuum easily filled by a listless nationalism made largely of cardboard cut-out celebrities and slogans. The alternative, in the case of the early peoples of Scotland and others, is a legacy highlighting collaboration, creativity and a mix of cultures in the act of blending. In other words, a platform for a connected world view that values local diversity within an interdependent world.
Courage (Save Link As) sets out to look at how such a platform might be made relevant today and, (along with other content and online contributions), has been seen by one or two as a form of lovebombing or the dispensing of chill pills. Which is about as far wide of the mark as possible.
The difficulty for most forms of legitimate demonstration and lobbying is the collapse into conflict. No matter how reasonable an argument those unwilling to compromise enjoy reducing others to their level and it appears that’s not a good place to go. The trolling mentality just keeps pushing the same buttons and in doing so fosters conflict as reasoned debate gives way to frustration.
Instant lovebombing or handing round the chill pills is unlikely to change trolling or bullying behaviours, as neither deals with the underlying causes – which seem as emotional as they are in some ways rational. Consequently, while it is respectful to offer debate there can be no expectation of receiving the courtesy of debate in return.
Ways of getting round this include either disengaging or playing the trolls at their own game – but by your rules. This might involve making appeals that are both rational and emotive – with a strong emphasis on humour and some form of performance/ production. Which takes me back to October 2012 – Games, Events and Demonstrations. By far the most viewed and most effective protests at the time were those focused on creating an event and a sense of wider action and participation.
The Games, Events and Demonstrations post may be from long before current events in Scotland but it, perhaps, presents a good fit. Regrettably, the events and culture clashes in Venezuela or the Ukraine – just this week – appear far past the point for easily using peaceful, creative demonstration or lobbying. However, in Scotland the debate has already been reshaped by the means of performance and creativity.
People are sharing tongue-in-cheek motivational posters; economic infographics arrive stamped with a friendly, smiling Highland cow logo, (to cheer you up after the bad news); and many consider it bad form to slag off or belittle other posters. Sure there’s language, but even that is mainly within everyday usage.
So far that’s zero physical aggression in a climate of quite frenzied political exchanges. Which, perhaps, leads back to culture and identity. In this instance there appears to be an underlying sense of interdependency based on setting differences aside to make the best of a difficult lot. This is expressed by many ‘nationalists’ more as a desire to re-negotiate a failing social contract than seeking separation.
But what about the trolls. They’re not excluded from lobbying through authentic performance and creativity – and they’re being invited to try out a different rewards system/ motivation. In addition, while fighting in empty rooms they’re unable to access the existing default rewards system. (Almost sounded like a games designer for a moment there).
Put bluntly, the trolls win if you feed them. The only way to go hard on them is to disarm them and to try to win them over. Is this unfair or manipulative. Not really, you’re just resetting the balance to allow discussion to continue without the biases introduced by trolling.
Take the Pictish stones. They set out a collaboration between what became Ireland, Scotland and England. There couldn’t be a much better example of co-dependency allied to diversity. However, the Roman through to Victorian message remains the same – these people were uniquely isolated and savage.
I prefer the ungodly notion of publicising and displaying this Christian and Pictish art in the manner Scandinavian nations display their early history, i.e. as a tourist goldmine. Of benefit to all, as once visitors get to the British Isles many take in several destinations while they’re here.