COMMENT

Insensitive fools

By Pantelis Boukalas

In imitation of other countries, politics in Greece is being increasingly and more broadly exercised on the Internet, partly because the anonymity of the medium allows politicians to launch personal attacks against their peers that even the yellowest of the press would hesitate to publish. It is not at all certain whether all of our politicians have fully comprehended what it means to do the job they have chosen – or simply inherited from their families as a “sure thing” – in the Internet age. Whether web experts or technophobes, their interest in the Internet is normally exhausted by the time they get their own website and create a profile on Facebook, tasks that they assign to communications experts and spin doctors, who could be seen – rather generously – as the paid court portraitists of the modern age.

The politicians themselves are prepared to get actively involved only when it comes to the new shadowy game of Twitter, and they seem to be in thrall of the medium. Many of them have the completely unfounded feeling that on Twitter they display the intellect of Heraclitus or Confucius, that they are capable of dishing out weighty words of wisdom in 144 characters or less, reviving the golden days of philosophy, taking us back to the 3rd or 6th century BC, to the age of sages and the creators of religion. Of course, if we had so many wise men in power right now, whether in politics or economics, Plato’s dream would have already come true.

Naturally, they tend to go over the top in their posts, often in a childish manner. Their tendency to hyperbole, meanwhile, prevents them from seeing understanding one of the Internet’s main attributes, which is not access to a plethora of new toys and games for all ages, but its permanence. The main attribute of this endless bank of information is that it allows even its most inexperienced users to revisit the words and actions of every political leader or wannabe politician and public figure. If users read a politician saying that his “principles remain steadfast,” they can easily prove how empty the words are by republishing other statements (even on video) where he appears to contradict himself time and time again, though probably with the same enthusiasm and the same photogenic pose of looking far into the future. They can show him up for what he is: a voluntary hostage to his own ambitions.

The fact is that many politicians have already been exposed this way, but mostly they just smile when they are, either because they are indifferent or because they are just too cynical. After all, even Confucius could have said that sensitivity in politics may make you known, but insensitivity will make you famous.

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