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Doth the web protest too much?

Really like this comment piece from Nick Cohen – Beware the instant online anger of the Hobnob mob – that worries about how easy the web has made it to protest.

Compared to the pre-internet days when staging a protest required serious commitment a couple of books of stamps; these days you can go from a throwaway remark on TV to a Twitter trendning topic and tens of thousands of outraged  Facebook group members in a couple of hours.

The speed and the numbers might combine to make editors and politcians jumpy, but where does this all lead us.

It reminds me of that benighted precursor to campaigning Facebook groups – the email petition.

Remember those? There was a time when I’d a get a couple a week, from people wanting my name against anything from rape to puppy killing (yes, seriously).

Now setting aside the fact that you’d find it hard to find anyone who WOULDN’T oppose those phenomena, what bugged me was the element of electronic consicence-easing that email petitions seemed to epitomise. As if by a few keystrokeds and a rummage through your address book you;’d doen your bit for global warming, poverty or whatever the current cause du’jour.

And while there’s no doubt that the web has had a measurably good impact in campaigning, organising and raising awareness (just ask Barack Obama, for one), I just hope that those in positions of responsibility are able to judge the righteousness in the anger of what sometimes seems like  a critical mass of Social Media outrage.

Because to use the vocabulary of Twitter, they may find that it is just that – a trending topic.

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