‘Dead tree’ columnist stereotypes bloggers as “articulate, intelligent … socially awkward misfits with zero personality”

Allison Morris’ column in Wednesday’s Irish News [paywall] starts with the observation that Twitter and Facebook now give “misogynists, racists, bigots, stalkers and lunatics … a potential global audience”, before taking a pop at bloggers who last got lightly toasted in her February 2012 column.

irish news bannerBloggers and those with a large ‘online presence’ can come across as articulate, intelligent and well informed when reading a post they have spent days obsessing over. However, when you meet them in the real world they are socially awkward misfits with zero personality or limited skills. People who in life would have little chance of success due to their obvious limitations can go online and attract large followings of like minded groupies.

Well that’s us told. [Ed – suspect it’s a little more pointed than that.]

Allison then returns to Twitter and Facebook and the “marked difference between what offends right thinking people and what could be successfully prosecuted”.

People such as [George] Seawright, murdered in 1987 by the IPLO, had to rely on public gatherings, bars, protests, parades, commemorations and possibly the odd TV interview to spread their hateful mantra. Now crazies, obsessives and bigots can reach a much larger audience without having to leave their bedrooms or remove their tin foil hats.

Overall, Allison argues that to police the internet is “all but impossible”.

The only effective way of not polluting your mind with the rants of others is by simply not looking in the first place. Most sites have a block button for use when the posters, almost always male, get out of hand.

Post complete, I can now safely remove my tin foil hat and go back to working on my people skills. Be careful how you comment – maybe her next column will pick up the sinister parallels between tweeting and commenting on blogs!

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  • Chucky

    I think Allison has touched a raw nerve here.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can I just say, by way of provisional defence, that Ms Morris and I have yet to meet in real life… B-)

  • Just a piece of crap journalism based upon nothing but her own preconceived notions of something she knows nothing about.

    That’s just my opinion of course – and nothing more! Wouldn’t quite like to try and pass it off as fact, like she has done.

  • FDM

    I think to be fair she makes some scoring points.

    I think their is a keyboard warrior in all of us.

    However some are more equal than others in that respect.

    George W. Bush climbed the mountain and held arguably the top position on the planet, without a single crumb of personality, semblance of intelligence or skill in oratory. He had powerful supporters.

    However that being said what would prevent a twitter/facebook/blogger sensation rising to a high position of power on a wave of public support, with bandwagon jumping powerful supporters with nefarious private aims? I would say in todays head-spinningly rapid world that this could happen.

    I think the point she makes about online heavyweights being dullards in person is too much of a generalisation. I myself am a charming chap until annoyed, whereupon I could charm the paint off the walls. However I make no claims to being anykind of online presence, hence I my logic is suspect.

    Could these comments be linked to the oft held [and very old] belief that a persons ability to lecture on a subject being inversely proportional to their expertise in the field and vice versa?

  • For completeness and to keep it light hearted for once… while Amazon don’t deliver tin foil hats, there some good DIY instructions online that the Irish News might like to licence and reprint, and a warning that tin foil headgear might make you easier to track.

  • Well she certainly gets me right.
    Intelligent. Articulate. …Guilty on both counts.
    Socially awkward misfit? Yes that just about sums it up.
    Missing out on the groupies but I live in hope.
    In fairness…or unfairness…she groups Blogging, Facebook and Twitter together.
    And to be honest Im not really at ease with Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook.
    And there are certainly too many excesses for my liking on social (anti-social) media. In fifteen years a lot has changed….Yahoo Groups, My Space Forums, Live Journal…and Journal to Blog.
    But somehow Facebook and Twitter dont actually seem like progress.

    Having in some way celebrated Citizen Journalism circa 2001, with the Baghdad Blogger, mainstream journalists have woken up to the threat it brings …both in terms of standards and in terms of livelihood.
    I have sympathy with both views…disourse has cheapened.
    But realistically journalism has nothing to fear from the tin foil majority of near lunatics like myself.
    But the minority of really good bloggers have succeeded in removing the priestly mystique that journalists have.
    Of course when I have fully digested the Irish News column….I will blog something pithy.
    That will show her!

  • Dec

    Well, she’s bang on about Facebook sites. There’s barely a day goes by on loyalist pages where some cretin isn’t advocating genocide.

  • claudius

    I think Ms Morris,s article may be in some way related to her failure to have Anthony McIntyre censured by the NUJ

  • son of sam

    Presumably Alison would have a certain view of some of the posts on The Pensive Quill!

  • If she has any views on The Pensive Quill or any member of the NUJ, I do not recall her saying anything at the Amnesty ” investigative journalism” lecture earlier this week.
    it was a dull affair, even boring.
    I certainly went in the expectation of some fireworks …if not from the panel, possibly from the audience.
    But nothing happened.
    It was I suspect the Elephant in the Room. But…nothing.
    Ms Morris did say something about being issued or not issued with a helmet and I understand from her tweets, she has had bottles thrown at her today…by hoods in the Divis Tower area.
    But I tend to think that in making general points about online bloggers, Ms Morris (who mentioned TWICE that she was a columnist as well as reporter) was using the column to make more specific points.
    Alan was there also and I will defer to his view if I am presenting an inaccurate view of the Amnesty event.

  • Kevsterino

    She is, of course, entitled to her opinion. I think it is an easy mistake to lump folks together like she has, but that too is just an opinion.

  • FDM

    Taken from twitter feed.

    “Allison Morris‏@AllisonMorris12h
    Just got attacked with bottles by a bunch of drunken rabble at the Divis bonfire site, tourists looking on shocked nice welcome to west Bel”

    “Allison Morris‏@AllisonMorris11h
    @steviemcgarry @PaulMaskeyMP Stephen they weren’t all kids GROWN MEN as well, totally DRUNK an abusive to everyone who walked past”

    Deeply regrettable. Fortunately no-one hurt in anyway shape or form, which begs the question…

    which one of you took the law into your own hands to extract revenge? We are looking for MEN, who like a DRINK with an online presence.

    That is a very long list on slugger…

    Anyone know DCs whereabouts? 😉

  • Greenflag

    It’s progress thats what it is In the BC era (before computers) ‘misogynists, racists, bigots, lunatics’ had to actually get up off their butts and form political parties -join a lynch mob , become a nazi or found a religious sect to attract public attention and power or glory or loot or whatever is their ‘motivator ‘. Being denied their mother’s milk or affection has it has been suggested led to many successful political careers whearas sitting on one’s butt for days on end only leads to obesity and worse 😉 .

    Had Hitler or Stalin or some such been able to vent their fantasies on line via facebook or twitter the world might have avoided several wars and some 120 million folks lives might not have been prematurely shortened ,

    There is some truth in what Morris writes but it doesn’t apply to me 🙂 I remain as I’ve always been an obnoxious sob with little patience for the other cows ,bulls or calves that make up the rest of humanity .

    Stereotyping has it’s fans though .

    Coming from a journalist is a bit hard to take . Where was the fourth estate prior to the financial meltdown .Oh yes now I remember ’embedded ‘ with the eh troops in the Iraqi and Afghan invasions . There’s a former USA General name of Petraeus who took this embedding role too much to heart and alas will no longer be Presidential candidate .

    Meanwhile Senator John McCain has referred to the Egyptian military take over and the ousting of popularly elected President Morsi as a coup no less .

  • Greenflag

    continued from above

    Journalists who from the left and right reported every word of Senator McCain during his Presidential campaign have been strangely silent on his recent ;coup ‘ remark ? Perhaos these journalists are embedded with USA foreign policy in Egypt which essentially boils down to selling that country’s generals as many jet fighters , tanks and other military toys that generals like to have which of course helps keep the armaments industry in the USA in production .

    What possible use could Egypt have for thousands of tanks and jet fighters except to defend themselves against the USA’s other ally in the region i.e Israel ?

    Eisenhower’s military/industrial complex is alive and well and indeed doing very well under President Obama 🙁

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    The NUJ reinstated McIntyre’s membership on appeal last week: it got about two lines in the Irish News buried at the bottom corner, half-way through the newspaper.

    Morris just loves attention.

  • claudius & Tir Chonaill Gae – the links to Anthony McIntyre’s appeal and reinstatement into NUJ are included in the main post.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I shall plead Spartacus to the aforementioned accusations but be she warned that some of the lads at the D&D club are fuming and were it not for ryanair and the naked girls in the game of thrones filming in Croatia then she might find herself on the receiving end of subtle witty sexually frustrated abuse

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    Ah, so I see Alan – thanks! Sorry for not clicking on them: your Baker-esque approach here isn’t exactly to my taste 😉

  • Kevsterino

    2 Hyperlinks does not a Baker-esque approach make. ;o)

  • Tir Chonaill Gael

    there are five Kev.. to be fair, that’s probably still a fraction of your average Baker post.

  • Kevsterino

    It reminds me of school days composing papers that were graded, in part, on the number of footnotes. But really hyperlinks aren’t a burden as I don’t feel an obligation to read them all.

    I think it is kind of nice to have the option so I understand a little better where the author is coming from. In fairness to Pete, I appreciate it when he posts the space stuff as it has led me to some interesting places.

    But I don’t think Mr. Baker wants me to like him, so being a cooperative sort, I won’t. ;o)

  • claudius

    I see that now Alan. Its worth looking at McIntyres blog where he has published the full correspondence of the complaint made by Mrs Morris etc .if you haven’t done so already.

  • aquifer

    Must be hard work being a newspaper columnist, being entertaining witty and right all the time. Though the chances of being all three together week in week out must be vanishingly small.

    Not having to write when I have nothing to say is grand.

  • qwerty12345

    Can someone break it to Allison that the world has changed. Freedom of expression on the internet is the biggest thing since the printing press.

    The genie aint going back in the bottle.

    PS The Irish News is mostly rubbish.

  • My response to the article and given that I know some bloggers out there, “LOL”
    Excuse my textspake. I have limited social skills 😉

  • Rory Carr

    The fact that Ms Morris has chosen once again to launch an attack on online citizen journalism makes me wonder what she may be defending. By following the links in the original post I find that she has a fear that one day she may be exposed on-line as having once, as she put it, “eaten dead babies for lunch”.

    Unhelpfully Ms Morris doesn’t explain which animal’s babies it is over which she feels such guilt. Poussin maybe, or veal perhaps although, what with the reported disappearance of thousands of infant children in Spain and what we have learnt of the lack of conscience prevalent in mainstream journalism perhaps it is human babies to which Morris refers.
    If so, I shouldn’t much worry if I were she – the public are so inured to tales of journalists’ misbehaviour that it is likely that it would only sit up and take notice if Ms Morris were reported as having an appetite for live babies for breakfast. Say it isn’t so.

  • aquifer

    “The fact that Ms Morris has chosen once again to launch an attack on online citizen journalism makes me wonder what she may be defending”

    Good question. Local species of conventional wisdom are policed with thuggery around here, but online we are free from physical persecution.

    When the ability to threaten and to enforce sectarian cohesion is lost, can sectarian narratives survive scorn?

    Online the tribal pendants and cohorts of chest puffers and knuckle waggers look overexposed.