I feel a moral obligation to disclose my profound dislike for the normalisation of aggressive posts as I know this view to be widely shared: this kind of comments by supporters of the current Spanish regime too often fill social media these days.
We often find aggressive utterances in posts by followers of the Spanish executive. Why are offensive and aggressive comments by these groups such a common occurrence on social media and virtual forums? If I may, I would like to draw attention to this increasingly recurrent issue. Contributors to public forums should, as a basic principle, be respectful. When genuinely interested readers who are trying to form an informed opinion come across examples of clear anger mismanagement in posts, they should readily recognise a bias in them and, therefore, disregard these sources/authors. A unanimous response along those lines against social media miss-users may discourage abusive users. At the risk of stating the obvious, if somebody cannot offer a well mannered, respectfully expressed opinion, they are bound to get precisely the opposite desired effect from their readers. Ignoring or reporting users who clearly want to engage in verbal violence would thus contribute to best practice in discussion forums. In this sense, a call to the authors of these unwanted posts is needed to ask them to refrain from writing in terms of insults and pejorative comments; negativity and offence does not contribute in any constructive way to a constructive debate.
Illustrative of my complaint, today I found this comment in response to a Youtube video portraying Spanish para-military police riots on peaceful voters during Catalonia’s 1st Oct Referendum day: “You have to be really retarded to believe the results of an unregulated poll, with no institutional support, with no measures to ensure its validation, with no electronic regulation, no international recognition, no international agents viewing its validation”. The misleading intentions hidden in such arbitrary reports do not take into account, for instance, the induced lack of guarantees perpetrated by the Spanish state’s violence and repression on the 1st of October. These facts are now well documented by accredited media sources, and I myself have posted supporting live media coverage from the 1st Oct events to denounce Spanish government’s repression in my other two articles in ENG in this blog: “Public statement released with a Facebook live video” and “The origins of todays declaration of independence in Catalonia”. Therefore, to the author of the above quoted comment and those like him, I would say that attempting to win an argument by the use of verbal force and outright lies is not acceptable social media interaction. When the worthwhile purpose must be contributing to an honest discussion with the aim of shedding light onto an issue, such comments are not just useless and plain simplistic, but harmful in that they hide the truth from those who legitimately want to find out what really happened. It’s worth considering the language used in this post. The use of the word ‘retarded’ -in this case a literal translation from Castellano- is immediately perceived to be in bad taste for its discriminatory connotations. This would be a common perception in any educated context and it is a pity for neighbouring populations to be often unfairly represented by such levels of intolerance… I am sure that it is quite apparent for most readers that such choice of wording and ‘reasoning’ does not constitute a serious line of argument either. And I realise I am again stating the obvious here.
However, I feel a moral obligation to disclose my profound dislike for the normalisation of aggressive posts as I know this view to be widely shared: this kind of comments by supporters of the current Spanish regime too often fill social media these days. Surely there will be people from all sides -Catalan pro-independence followers included- who use aggressive and offensive writing. But, let me be clear about this, and I wish there was an easy way to prove this, it is well known among political-minded Twitter users for one, that the vast majority of pro-independence supporters are correct and exhibit peaceful tones in their messages, and as it happens in reality, they would be defending against an attack and seldom initiating an offensive; a bit like attitudes in the now famous and exemplary peaceful grassroots rallies in the streets of Catalonia. Yet, it remains a must to recognise the unpleasant reality of these (influenced) writers.
It is even understandable that an aggressive regime as the Partido Popular holding the Spanish executive today, produces these kind of likewise aggressive supporters. It may be even regarded as logical that these distasteful comments bear an obvious similarity to the actively belligerent style portrayed by the current ruling elites of the Spanish state… If I may personalise it further, unfortunately, this kind of tone is nothing new to Catalans, I am afraid. In fact, such language and attitudes are what the Partido Popular’s rule have made us accustomed to. In Catalonia, they have issued prison sentences to pacifist leaders and 8 legitimate members of an elected Government and have forced a legitimate President and ministers into having to flee their country (Catalonia) seeking fair trial elsewhere abroad.
Such unhappy episodes have to be seen within the context of PP’s rancid and totalitarian rule. Many under this regime, in Catalonia and beyond, feel, as European leaders should feel, that allowing these examples of totalitarian rule in a European territory (with the condoning of EU Parliament and EU Commission, to name a few) raises many questions on supranational institutional safety all over the continent. And so, back to the defence of a best practice model of social media contributions, the alarming frequency of aggression has to necessarily be related to and understood from the narrow minded conservative and authoritarian ideology from which it stems. The PP regime is one that does not really afford any better chance of sound contribution or ‘informed discussion’ to its own followers… In this sense, and only in this sense, their supporters do maybe deserve our compassion, especially when they are, like their leaders, living in denial when they hope to succeed in their intent to indoctrinate the better informed and educated younger generations.
As a closing thought, I wanted to make this clear: Spain has thankfully a diverse and rich humane landscape and one that would be unforgivably misrepresented by the intolerance I am referring to in this article. My plea is precisely in support of the majority of distinct inhabitants of Andalucia, Aragón, Asturias, Balearic and Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla(s), Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, País Vasco, Rioja or Valencia, who oppose intolerant practices. There is a need that we all join efforts in the next elections on 21st December and defeat the shameful PP status quo. We must recognise and echo the cries of justice that not only Catalan people are uttering; many others in the Iberian Peninsula have the same need at heart. If the polls represent all the citizens who do not want to have anything to do, either with the retrograde and repressive ways of the Spanish state or its undignified government, we are all saved and will eventually see the light of justice.
Silvia Alvarez i Ribes és Consultora de Redacció Formal/Acadèmica i Tutora de Tècniques d’Estudi a The University of Edinburgh i Queen Margaret University, també a Edimburg, des de 2006.