The Six Million Follower Man

There seems to be a new trend on Twitter with posts commencing, ‘…now I don’t normally agree with [Person X], but…’ or, ‘It hurts to say it, but I agree with [Person X]. I have even withstood the visual assault of, ‘Four words I never thought I’d hear myself say: I. Agree. With. [Person X]‘.

It’s a wince-worthy new form of backhanded compliment.

Or is it?

Well, no. It’s a stealthier variant of virtue-signalling.

Here’s a fact about people. Good people do bad things, and bad people do good things. Therefore, there will be time when an inveterate charlatan says something laudable.

Now, if said charlatan has a high profile, that’s a juicy, fat-ass hunk of opportunist mother love right there. I mean, this is a person with a large following who may then re-tweet you, right?

So, you hop onto the bandwagon to unzip your retweet pronto but being sure to preface it with a ‘I don’t normally agree with this person, but…’ line.

Well, you don’t want all your followers to assume you’re now supping with the devil, do you? So, this introductory snippet will be your long spoon, so to speak.

But more than singularly covering your arse via deft distancing and preparing the ground, it achieves so, so much more.

It reinforces the validity of the original message and obscures the flagitious motivation for your patronage. After all, you wouldn’t endorse anything from that crook unless it were unimpeachable. Your advocacy of the missive emphasises your impartiality when assessing facts. It screams your probity from the rooftops.

It’s subtle and dexterous communication. But it’s only scratching the surface of the additional machinations at play.

You see, with these high-profile tweeting pantomime villains, you think you’re playing them. But they are playing you.

They are experts in content marketing. They spout off all kinds of polarising twaddle for shock value and for one purpose: they’re growing an audience. Once they have followers, they have open feeds on a frightening scale into which their subsequent tweets will be pulled. These are the runways for their critical messaging. The stuff that sells their products or carries the political memoranda of their chums who are pulling the strings in the background

By retweeting them, you grow the audience. What is more, the villain then retweets you and in doing so, circulates your validation of them.

Right now, there’s never been a more jeopardous time for fake news and its support structures. With the lockdowns, the numbers plugged into online channels have arguably never been higher. There’s an inordinately mammoth captive audience, and there’s one subject that is harnessing the most attention: coronavirus.

As a result, many of these charlatans are virtue-signalling on the bug with one sole objective: to build their online congregations through uncharacteristic good citizenship. The asshat sectors of the population follow them anyway. Now they’re after a slice of the rest. Once all the bug mayhem subsides, they’ll have a larger portion of the general public pie into which they can pour their nefarious deliberations.

You think that you’ve cannily hopped onto the bandwagon for your own devices, but you’ve become an opportunist cog in their monster machine. You’re now feeding the beast that will propagate the next contagion of warpo ideology, whatever the flavour might be.

It hurts me to say it, but you’ll no longer be agreeing with [Person X].

Of course, you may agree with the crook because you earnestly and quite properly concur with the small number of good things that bad people say. But, please don’t retweet them or tweet out your surprise at them for having said it.

You see, you’re not actually agreeing with them. They’re agreeing with you. You’ve always railed against social injustice, prejudice and government ineptitude, long before the very first corona microbes landed on the first face.

You just never had a 6 million-follower platform.

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