Keep your tweets to yourself

Megan Conway

In an age when social media is a key part of our everyday lives, it’s no wonder that politicians are taking to Twitter and using it as another platform to boost their profiles. However lately Twitter has become a political playground where politicians are causing much more outrage than good on the platform.

Twitter is not responsible for how its users use the platform. Although what a politician says on the network is entirely freedom of speech, when world leaders are treading the fine line of war with North Korea and calling the leader “short and fat”, that becomes an issue for almost everyone.

The problem doesn’t just lie with Trump. It hit home over the past few weeks that Twitter abusing politicians and influencers exist in Ireland as well as the states. These politicians, who hold both power and influence and who represent the voices of the people are the ones who need to be silenced.

Fine Gael Executive Councillor, Barry Walsh, resigned this week following a series of offensive and misogynistic tweets aimed at female politicians and pro-choice campaigners. Walsh made comments on Twitter about comedian Tara Flynn, who told her abortion story publicly, saying she “couldn’t be bothered having a baby. So she had it killed.”

This political misbehaviour has created a wave of anger and distrust from the public and from the Government. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called for Walsh to resign from the party. But why are politicians using the platform to bully and is this necessary?

Trump and Walsh are examples of politicians and Government influencers who are undermining the public’s sense of trust in the Government and the people they elect to represent them. Twitter is a platform which encourages freedom of speech and no doubt they have financially reaped the benefits of Trump and his constant rigmarole of tweets. Twitter should be encouraging politicians to engage rather than making and broadcasting rash statements. Political leaders and activists should not be using online trolling as a way to govern.

Twitter is a powerful tool for politicians. They have the power to influence how citizens and the media think in a 280-character bracket. Both Walsh and Trump have used this opportunity to effectively use and abuse their power. But the capacity Twitter holds is terrifying. People are powerful behind screens and sympathy is non-existent.

Political leaders and influencers wouldn’t make similar statements if the social media age was non-existent so it shouldn’t be so common for them to be made today so casually. Twitter gives everyone a voice, but it’s important that everyone respects the voices of others. It’s important that those with the most power and the most influence respect all voices because at the end of the day they are the representation of the people and they shouldn’t want to silence them.

Megan Conway

Image Credit Twitter