I am interested in politics because everything we experience is political. We are living through a pandemic where each government has handled it differently, their politics and priorities determining their choices. Looking at the statistics we can see whose methods have worked well and whose have not. One place where Covid-19 is portrayed as a harmless ‘flu bug is on the social media platform, Parler. I am late to the party and only recently discovered this microblogging alternative to Twitter. Our Facebook timelines are testament to our natural tendency to create our own echo chambers on social media. This tendency, of course, created isolated bubbles arguing for and against Brexit and confounded the dissemination of facts. Parler, launched in 2018, is a whole new bubble. I joined to see what is going on in there.
I was not ready for the level of American conservatism on Parler: Women who describe themselves as antifeminists; those who want to avoid “trolls” on Twitter and Facebook (as they see people with different views to themselves); and Katie Hopkins. I have given myself an apolitical identity. I am not there for arguments, just for viewing the other side of the looking glass. I did not really believe the claims that it was totally right wing, but that is actually what it is like. The irony that it is called ‘Parler’, yet with so many users staunchly against speaking any language but English, is not lost on me.
It is a safe place for people holding conservative views to share their opinions without all the ‘snowflakes’ and ‘antifa’ attacking them (usually with facts). To be honest I do not blame them, but at the same time I can’t see the point of an environment where you only encounter people who agree with you. Politics develops with discussion and argument. However, those times on social media when you are confronted with contrasting views to your own can be stressful and we all have enough stress right now. It must be awful to be told that your white supremacist views are wrong.
I will use it purely as a window into that other world. It helps me to understand where the ideas come from. Like everyone else though, I have to take care of my mental wellbeing, and obsessively watching what people of the American right-wing think will do me no favours. However, seeing people’s sources can be useful when in discussion on other platforms.
I do not know how long this app will stay on my phone. I can hardly bear to follow anyone on it. I think I will use it to search selected hashtags to get alternative views when I’m feeling resilient enough for that kind of experience. Some of the views are abhorrent, to my mind, as they are on other social media. There simply does not appear to be a balance of views to temper the effect. Views are verified, consolidated and their toxicity added to via the comment threads. Socialism is seen as the devil’s work and so I am interested to see what they feel are divine wishes for society. And what sort of god would have those desires? I will watch with interest, while staying quiet …No Parler.