The revolution has begun: Corbyn’s rise from the ashes is a social media triumph – Emlyn Pearce

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General elections 2017

Right now, you are reading an article on Facebook that has not been cut or curbed to fit the wishes of an advertiser, nor has it been designed to serve the political agenda of a nasty old Australian scrotum, nor to protect the job of a self-serving editor.

I write whatever I like, and even when my mom calls to tell me Christine at church doesn’t like all the swearwords, I publish it anyway because naughty words make this skinny little gay boy feel tough as fuck.

(“CHRISTINE ISN’T EVEN ON FACEBOOK MOM! IF SHE DOESN’T LIKE SWEARING, PLEASE STOP PRINTING OUT MY POSTS AND GIVING THEM TO HER!” – an argument we literally had last Christmas.)

The exchange between you and me is straightforward and transparent: I write what I believe in; you share it if you agree, or send me badly spelled death threats if you don’t. There is no money muddying the waters, no political puppeteer behind the scenes, no underhand motives. My blog will sink or swim based on whether I provide you with valuable writing. It is as simple as that.

And in what you and I are doing here – ordinary people writing their political views, and ordinary people reading those views and deciding whether to broadcast them more widely or not – we have the answer to why politicians and the traditional media were so blindsided by Thursday’s election result.

It’s not even that they thought about social media the wrong way, but they literally have no idea what social media really is, how honestly and authentically it operates, or the extent to which it has rendered the front page of the Sun utterly redundant.

Because in 2017, YOU are the editor of the newspaper, the broadcaster of political opinion. You are in control of the most powerful force in a democracy: the flow of information.

And the most astounding phenomenon we are seeing now is that the ACTUAL truth is able to be broadcast – not a filtered truth that has been arranged by a hack with money or power in mind, but the truth of ordinary people’s lives. What you and I see, think, and experience IS the news now, and Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay brothers can do nothing about it.

How can we be surprised, therefore, by Jeremy Corbyn’s ascendency?

Two out of five voters backed Corbyn with the (probable) belief that he would lose badly, but we backed him because he was real to us: as real as the words and images of our own lives that we publish every day. Curiously, this ‘old socialist’ is a politician who could have been designed for the social media age: a man who was not coronated in a shady backroom deal, but grew into popularity organically, through shares and likes, through word of mouth and contagious passion.

Meanwhile, the tinned platitudes of May – ‘I am clear’, ‘Brexit means Brexit’, ’strong and stable’ – were rendered infinitely more clunky and embarrassing because they were constantly contrasted on our newsfeeds with the honest, unpolished words of thousands of people telling their experiences of schools that can’t afford stationery or the pain of nursing a parent through Alzheimer’s while fearing they will lose their home.

It turns out the old adage is correct: the revolution will, indeed, not be televised. Rather, it will be broadcast on Facebook Live by an ordinary person who is able to share their own truth, unedited, unscripted, and unplanned, to millions of their fellow citizens.

No amount of clever spin can beat the rawness of a real person’s story, told in their own words. Our personal accounts of how government has affected us and our families are becoming what they always should have been: the most powerful catalysts of change that politics has ever seen.

Democracy came to the ballot paper 99 years ago, and now, at last, it is coming to the way we decide where to mark that paper.

Ladies and gentlemen, the revolution has finally begun.

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