Last month saw a new hashtag emerge on Twitter which despite catching on, struggled to seem little more to me than petty wannabe cyberbullying. A weak political strategy overall. The number of tweets featuring ‘#CameronMustGo’ exceeded 800,000 within mere days. Not quite as popular as Justin Bieber, mentions featuring ‘#CameronMustGo’ numbered greater than the mentions that the Scottish Referendum ‘Yes’ Campaign received, which plateaued at just over 700,000.
I say it seemed little more than cyberbullying, much of it was essentially constructive criticism, somewhat generalised, but not malicious. Many make reference to government spending levels, the NHS, the benefits system and general political matters that the Prime Minister would typically be called upon to answer. The hashtag has allowed a concentration of the criticism not in the sense that it might be answered, but by a route in which the sheer volume can be seen.
The flipside to this is that less constructive comments are able to manifest themselves and have been doing so, often amusingly but more typically crudely and for the sake of it. To give an idea of the mixed bag of uses of #CameronMustGo, at time of writing the ten most recent tweets (all within the last three minutes) include: ‘This shower of s**t know the cost of everything & the value of nothing #CameronMustGo #CameronOut’, a poster criticising the rise in Westminster pensions accompanied with the hashtag, ‘II WANT EERY STUDENT TO SEEK REVENGE AT 2015 EAT DIRT CLEGG. EAT S**T #CameronMustGo. MSM HATE LABOUR. SO LABOUR GET MY VOTE’, and simply ‘#cameronmustgo What an idiot’.
So the trend serves its use in serving as a basic indicator that a lot of people aren’t a fan of David Cameron. It serves to channel criticisms that might be levelled. It serves in an age of free speech to serve as a platform by which everyone and anyone can effectively express how they feel about the Prime Minister, who somewhat childishly referred to Ed Miliband as a ‘complete waste of space’ after waving around a leaked Labour document as part of ‘the Christmas spirit’ Cameron was getting into in the 18th December’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Yet #CameronMustGo leaves me quite cold. It is a slogan which can be mindlessly thrown around and used in just about any context to generate a mass quantity of insults at Cameron, which again, I find quite difficult to differentiate from cyber bullying. If I were Cameron myself, I’d probably be somewhat unfazed by the upsurge of tweets, but as a means by which people express themselves, it may even be to his advantage that he can somewhat legitimately dismiss the jibes at him calling for his own dismissal.
It’s difficult to discern whether the fad is an issue of modern communications, whether it may be an issue of the electorate, whether it may be a comment on the ability to politically participate, but if 800,000 tweets are able to be generated then there appears to be something amiss.
Twitter took its own stance on the issue when despite large influxes of tweets with the hashtag, they prevented it from trending saying that the rules of trending disallows “repeatedly Tweeting the same topic/hashtag without adding value to the conversation in an attempt to get the topic trending or trending higher”. That, at any rate, may encourage a rethinking of how to make voices heard.