I daresay David McCann, Deputy Editor at Slugger O’Toole wont mind if I shamelessly rip off the title of his latest blog. First of all, shamelessly ripping off ideas is what Bloggers do. Secondly, I think he asks a very reasonable question. Thirdly, he makes good points. Lastly, I have no means of replying to the good and bad points he has made as I cancelled my Slugger account…a consequence of the lack of a straight forward response when I raised the question of whether their alleged cartoonist had depicted the Leader of a democratic party as a Nazi…Satire maybe. Charlie Hebdo…hardly.
So why do I do it? Well you havent asked but I will tell you anyway.
In case you dont know “Keeping An Eye on the Czar of Russia” is a tip of the hat to the infamous editorial in the Skibbereen Eagle,where the editor of a small town newspaper in West Cork comments on great world affairs. He had a high opinion of himself, didnt he? And thats what all Bloggers have in common with the man from the Skibbereen Eagle.
Bloggers are….complete No-Marks. I am a total No-Mark. It is 9.15am and my wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren have all gone to work and school and I am typing this on my ipad.
To be honest, I was always a No-Mark and when I went back to University aged 53 and graduated aged 57 (2009), there was no way I was ever going to get a real job that would in any way reflect my alleged new skills in History and Politics. To be even more honest, I didnt learn much at Queens University. I was a loose cannon who didnt take my tutors very seriously. They had the paperwork to back up their opinions and I didnt. But what do you think? Who knows more about Norn Iron Politics? Me or some uppity 30 year old PhD from London or Manchester?
Blogging is my revenge.
Blogging owes everything to the Baghdad Blogger. The Iraq War brought out all kinds of editorials telling us we are all “citizen journalists”. It is all complete bollox. And I should know. If you are unlucky enough to have found this Blog, consider yourself lucky that you have not yet found my other Blogs in cyberspace…History and Politics are not what defines me.
The Internet has changed from 1998. AOL begat Yahoo which begat MySpace which begat Live Journal which begat Blogspot which begat Word Press. Maybe Blogging was at its best seven or eight years ago.
David McCann makes seven points.
1 Seek out fellow bloggers, he says. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! ….Avoid fellow bloggers like the plague. They are totally useless wastes of space. And worse in the cases of Mick Fealty, Alan Meban and David McCann and indeed others, you will find that you LIKE them. Keep them at a distance and say nasty things about them ….that works best for me. Of course there ARE Bloggers I totally detest and I refuse to identify myself with them. The last thing Id want to do is be part of some quasi-official Norn Iron Bloggers Association….indeed there used to be something called a “Web Ring” but it had some kinda test where applicants had to write 300 words to join the magic circle. I couldnt be arsed.
I think its a matter of choosing Dignity over Networking. Avoid David, Alan, Brian, Gladys, Lyra, Harriet, Orna and the rest. Yes, there is a lot to be gained with all the mutual back-slapping. But it is not for me. Getting a gig talking Politics on “Costcutter Radio” or reviewing the newspapers on “Craigavon Hospital Radio” might lead to bigger gigs with Rick and Deirdre on “The View” (BBC) or with Nolan and Cawley (BBC Radio) but its not for me.
Much better to have a list of Enemies. I have a very long list of people that I wonder what they are up to. You might guess from the Archives that I am not overly fond of some of our most influential movers and shakers on the sidelines of our Politics.
2 Dont have an Agenda….says David McCann. Bollox. There are two types of Blogger ….some say they have an agenda and some SAY they dont. We all do. I am a republican, a socialist and a nationalist. And a member of SDLP. Allowing for Election Campaigns, I try not to spin.
3 David says…”Be Sincere”. Well I can “do” Sincerity or I can happily fake it. Sincerity gets you points with “readers” but it doesnt help you if you are more interested in “networking”
4 Media…to be honest, I dont bother much with the Media. Some (Alex Kane for example) have been kind to me. Some (William Cawley)….hmmmm. And one who thru disctretion I wont mention was so moved by conversing with me that she entered a convent. No Names. No Pack Drill.
5 Money….I have made $43 in seven years.
6 Be “Realistic”. Well I am not the Huffington Post. Id be surprised if this Blog is any way influential. SDLP colleagues occasionally say nice things. Some are patronising. But most have never heard of me. SDLP routinely complains that it has no Online Presence. I have lost count of the number of times, I have been in an audience where I have heard that. I have even sat in a SDLP audience, where an outsider talked about Blogging.
So dont expect Gratitude. Dont expect any more than a short “thanks but no thanks” rejection letter if you apply for a job with your chosen political party.
7 A Labour of Love? Hardly. Therapeutic? Yes, I think so.
But really its all about a Decision. Do you “network” with people or do you compile a list of enemies? There are simply people in Norn Iron….the FAUX LetsGetAlongerists ….who I simply cant stand. This Blog is primarily about them.
Of course, I am old and bitter. David McCann is young and naive. Will I ever let him forget that analysis of SDLP in South Belfast in 2013? No I wont. But I think I am doing him a favour. He had an excuse. The big thing about Blogging is DONT BLOG ALL YOU KNOW. Dont rush to publish. A Blogger hears things…little indiscretions…and it is best to store it in the “memory bank”. It is a jigsaw puzzle. Dont hold one piece of the puzzle and think it is the whole picture.
On the other hand, other things are less forgivable. No agenda David??? That head to head in East Belfast, Robinson and Long. Ooops I mean Gavin Robinson MP. No agenda…my arse!
Sinn Féin lose ten council seats and Alliance lose two seats and SDLP loses one. Westminster SF loses a seat, Saint Naomi loses a seat. SDLP doesnt lose a seat. But “managed decline” and possibly Nazi cartoons. No agenda David?
Do you know anything about what sort of person reads your blog and why? Who is your “target” audience? Do you get problems from unionists coming on challenging your views?
There are people who follow the Blog and have never commented.
The “views” far exceed the number of comments and there is really no way of knowing who the “lurkers” are.
Occasionally a SDLP colleague will say that they saw a particular post. I tend to “advertise” SDLP related posts on Facebook, where many SDLP friends see it. Occasionally it will be “shared” so a lot of SDLP people will see it.
I am no longer on Twitter but when I advertise a post there, then it will be re-tweeted generally to the “”letsgetalongerists”.
This Blog is a “blog” and very different from (say) a message board like Slugger O’Toole….Slugger actively encourages discussion. The downside of that is that discussion leads to argument.
The good thing about this blog is that there is no heated argument because the people who read it are broadly republican, socialist and nationalist…so while there is a certain difference in emphasis between SDLP supporters, SF supporters, Green supporters….there is a lot of respect.
Fair to say that in the pre-election period, one SF supporter/member was a bit of a nuisance but he seemed very young.
I have never had any trouble from any unionist but I have had bother from Alliance supporters. I made an early decision not to publish any comments from known Alliance members and supporters.
They were well organised and seemed to hunt in packs.
I dont think Alliance views can add anything to a republican/socialist/nationalist Blog. Certainly they seemed to have a sense of entitlement. ….but the way I look at it is that the Alliance Party is over-represented in Government, Quangos, Media and Message Boards such as Slugger O’Toole.
I cant support the gerrymandered position that Alliance are in…..but mostly I just enjoy pissing them off.
Hmmm, at one time British State Security would have been very interested in someone with a knowledge of Norn Iron politics to geek level with or without a degree.
Not now of course, the Brits don’t really give a toss anymore.
You don’t speak Arabic by any chance.
Oh this is very true.
The Brits raided our house in West Belfast (just like everyone else) and I wasnt there but I had a lot of newspaper cuttings …including funeral notices (they took a big interest in that).
A few days later, I was lifted off the street around Clonard..
Usually when I was stopped I had no bother.
But on this occasion (only ever the second of three times), I was taken to Springfield Road RUC.
I have to emphasise I was treated very well. But the Special Branch guy was asking a lot about hobbies etc. And about political thoughts. Of course they would have known that I was SDLP.
Want to emphasise that it was all embarrasingly genteel and civilised. But I have no doubt it was related to the previous raid. The Special Branch were just following up in a routine way.
They would know I didnt fit the profile, SDLP, no family history of previous involvement, no otther information about me and my physical appearance hardly added up to much.
Nevertheless when I got home, I burned just about everything I had.
You may have noticed that I often go into riffs about the 1970s in West Belfast.
This is all down to memory. No records.
I had in early days decided to keep a record of (almost) daily events but that experience cured me of that.
Probably since the QUB (2005 to 2009) experience I have become a little angry about it all. It would have been a great archive, not least for my children.
What makes me most angry is knowing that if I had been a middle class 23 year old in Bangor or Malone Road…or frankly a unionist…the raid and the interview would not have happened.
To clarify further our house was not a target. Another house clearly was but (as was often the case) other innocent houses were raided…