Start Your Own Shitstorm!


I did a bad thing.

I upset a Milennial.

He’s some guy with a narrow jacket and a children’s TV show haircut who was swanking off online about his latest article in a pointless freesheet known mainly for publishing recycled press releases about trainers and beard gel. After I made a joke about the rag he replied with an insult, so to prove my point I took a screenshot of the freesheet’s trivia-filled front page. Rather than engage with me about the content he called me an old c**t. I can see now that it was me who made the mistake here; on balance I shouldn’t have called him out.

For this reason.

There’s a delusional space between the way people describe their jobs and what they actually do. He’s selling himself as a crusading journalist, but I see him as a shill for pharma and sportswear companies, turning out junk paper for people to leave on railway platforms. It’s a paper no-one wants except the people who make a profit from it. He has every right to delude himself about the way he earns his money, but I’m not sure it’s advisable to share that fantasy with others. However, it was wrong of me to point out the gap between his dreams and reality. What threw me was the vertiginous descent into name-calling that followed. Scratch a Millennial and you may find the oldest prejudices lying just below the surface.

There’s an interesting novella called ‘Shitstorm‘ by Argentinian-born Fernando Sdrigotti about the American dentist Walter Palmer, who murdered a lion with a bow and arrow and caused an international protest. Sdrigotti has changed the names to protect himself, but uses the event to create a powerful piece of polemic about the media reportage and millennial outrage that paradoxically drives centrist protest. It’s first out of the stable from Open Pen Novelettes, and is right on the pulse, capturing the looking-glass topsy-turveydom of the times. The Palmer drama is our spat writ large.

These short-tempered flare-ups take many forms and can be seen in Paris right now as the Gilets Jaunes riot, no longer about fuel tax but over everything. It’s an inchoate way of expressing dissatisfaction with Macron’s policies that merely makes everything slightly worse. In March we’ll doubtless see similar scenes on the streets of London if Brexit goes ahead. Next time around, though, it may not consist of a series of micro-tantrums, but erupt into something no government has seen since the poll tax riots.

And as someone who has lived through far too many London protests, I know it won’t change a damned thing if nothing has been constructed to replace a system that’s failing.

7 comments on “Start Your Own Shitstorm!”

  1. Peter Tromans says:

    I’m convinced that a lot of humans have a need for something to fight against. Is the western world becoming a total mess of hatred because the iron curtain fell? We no longer have a well-defined external enemy, so we attack one another at the least provocation, even finding provocation when it’s not there. People should look around and think hard: life is actually pretty good so don’t spoil it for yourselves or others.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    “life is actually pretty good” Depends on who you are, Peter.
    I keep thinking 1848, which made some difference in some places, Denmark for example.
    As for the rioters in the posted picture, I have very little respect for people who have to wear masks. Even the police have numbers so surely protesters can indicate their support by showing their own faces.

  3. kevin says:

    ” . . . on balance I shouldn’t have called him out”

    I disagree. He went low and you went high. He deserves what he got, because the alternative name-calling which he choose, or the milquetoast – you’ve got your opinion and I’ve got mine – has no place among thinking people. This is something many millennials will do well to heed!

  4. Peter Tromans says:

    Helen, I have some understanding for rioters and revolutionaries, though I fear that the results are often more negative than positive. They want to be heard by a political class that tends to think only of itself and its associates. My criticism is of individuals such as the person who attacked Chris. The self-generated expert, full of fake information, who responds with insults or worse to anyone who politely questions their ideas or comments. There seems to be a lot of them these days. Look at the comments sections of websites*, especially those covering news and politics. Why are they looking for abusive arguments? Why don’t they appreciate how good their lives are and set out to enjoy them? At least, Mods and Rockers and football hooligans kept most of their fighting between their own groups.

    *Thankfully, Mr F attracts only the nicest people here.

  5. Alan Morgan says:

    The Poll Tax riots were barely about the Poll Tax at all for many. It was just where it all came to a head after the 80s. The old Bill at the time were like school bullies, shoving folk around knowing that to react was to get nicked. The moving in on the estate like an army in the early hours. Stopped, and searched. Stopped, and searched. Bundled into vans to be searched, and then dropped off miles away. Slagging off the girls so as to rile up the lads. It was, what, five years after the convoy? The Thatcher mentality of an enemy to be defeated in battle was still strong.

    The rozzers now aren’t the rozzers then.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. It’s early, it was a long time ago, and as memories that soapbox is wobbly 😉

  6. Helen Martin says:

    I have not been in riots, even the stupid Stanley Cup insanity of a few years back was outside my experience, only watched them on tv. Any protests I’ve been involved in have been poster carrying marches with police merely keeping cars away and making sure no one was attacked. I don’t understand the smashing of windows (except for the hooligan’s delight in the tinkle of falling glass) or other damage to things that have nothing to do with the protest subject. In the 70s there were “anti-establishment riots” and the police horses were called out. That was as close as we ever came to the generalized police brutality you gentlemen were referencing. I know that people who do not match with the societal norms advocated by police type people often do get treated badly when authorities decide to repress public protest. See how neutral phrases can sound when all the edges are taken off?
    When life becomes too hard to deal with (cauliflower at $9 a head, monthly rent leaving you nothing to pay for heat) and the “people in charge” “They” don’t seem to be able to see the problem) then taking to the street is possibly the only answer but can we not be answerable for our actions? There is often the comment that agitators or the above mentioned hooligans have “infiltrated the group” so show a face to prove you aren’t one.

  7. Jan says:

    Personally I reckon these French protesters have a point. They don’t muck around the French I remember being in Paris one weekend when the locals decided to have a bit of a protest about nowt much and it was seriously reminiscent of Saturday afternoon football violence from the late 1970s (but on steroids.)

    You don’t want to think much about being in riot situation. The reality of it being all you seriously concentrate on is staying on your feet – getting knocked over and separated from your tribe isn’t a viable survival option. You keep your visor down and your shield up and you just get on with it.

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