Last night someone I follow on Twitter posted a link to a blog post of theirs, Why I don’t respect your argument. It was a story that joins the personal and the political. It raised some interesting questions about the level of debate that we get on Twitter. I will quote the first bit of the post, but I suggest you go and read the rest of it here.
I recently had the benefit of attending a regional conference for a political party I support. I’m not going to say which one because frankly it is irrelevant to this post. Sufficed to say, it was my first time attending any political event and I found it both overwhelming and engaging.
During my time at conference a photograph surfaced of me and several others with a prominent politician. The photograph was originally posted to the politician’s social media pages but was then taken and shared to other locations.
It came to my attention, some hours after the event, that several people who knew me on social media (but hadn’t connected the dots) were tearing strips off the people involved in the photo. Their argument? We don’t dress like real people.
Now sure politics can get a bit personal, and if you are an MP or a known senior official in a political party should expect a few not so nice comments to be made. We can all remember the comments Judith Collins made about Metiria Turei’s jacket. However, if you are just a low level party member, even if you are in the company of a minister, I think people should be careful about drawing you into the debate, and that debate should focus on what you have said or done, not what you wear or what you look like.
The rest of the blog raises questions around what attacks on what people wear does to everyones ability to take people, and their arguments, seriously. I didn’t see many of the worst comments, but I don’t think I want to either. Twitter is great for political debate, be it between MPs, MPs and voters, or just voters. But if it is to fully deliver on the potential it offers, we need to raise the bottom end of the debate.