Writer and activist Owen Jones is quitting social media due to the abuse he faces online.
Owen says he has been threatened with “torture and murder” by far right extremists.
But he says the abuse has come from both sides in UK politics with criticism from Labour and Conservative supporters.
Owen is a Labour supporter but has questioned Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party.
Here’s Owen’s Facebook post in full.
- I’m going to take a break from social media except to post articles and videos and the occasional events.
- This isn’t flouncing off. It’s just it has come to point where it is a) totally unproductive and b) frankly just completely and utterly depressing.
- On a daily basis I have angry strangers yelling at me, on the one hand, that I’m responsible for the destruction of the Labour Party, and on the other, I’m a right-wing sellout careerist who’s allied to Tony Blair and possibly in the pay of the Israeli government (and that I’m a Blairite cunt who needs to go fuck myself, and so on and so forth).
- What unites both of these groups is an almost chronic inability to accept political disagreement in bad faith. Nope: there has to be some sinister ulterior motive. Their belief is so righteous and pure than the only possible reason for someone disagreeing with it is malice or greed. That I’m a careerist, obsessed with my own profile, driven by selling books or making money, that the Guardian have brainwashed me, that I was never really left-wing, and so on and so forth.
- Nobody who actually knows me thinks I’m driven by anything other than what I believe, even when they disagree with me. Both my parents are staunch supporters of Jeremy Corbyn; they’re leading members of their local Momentum branch. They don’t agree with lots of what I’ve said. Unlike the increasingly frothing keyboard warriors, neither doubts for a second that what I says comes from the heart.
- I find myself constantly engaging with people denouncing my motives while sending abuse. And my friends ask: What are you doing? Why are you wasting your life on this nonsense? And they’re just right.
- Added with the usual far-right extremists sending ever more creative descriptions of how they’re going to torture and murder me, I’m no longer convinced social media is as useful a tool for political debate and discussion as it once was.
- I know the obvious responses to this. Put your violin away, stop pitying yourself. Get a thick skin. You put your views out there, expect to get attacked. That’s how this works.
- But to be honest it isn’t about that. I’m just wasting my life. I wouldn’t choose to walk every day into a room full of total strangers screaming mindless abuse and making up what I think and what my motives are, but in a sense that’s what I’m currently doing.
- I can’t help look at some of it as distressing, not because of me, but because of the cause I love and have devoted my life to, the left, the movement that exists to rid society of injustice, exploitation and bigotry. I always wanted a left that was inclusive, welcoming, warm, that tried to convince the great mass of people who don’t take a daily interest in politics that a better world was possible. If it is overtaken by a loud minority who are, increasingly, bound by utter hatred towards anyone deemed to deviate from their sanctity of their cause, then there is no future. None. I know there are some on the left who relish hunting down traitors, and hate them more than any Tory. But I’m afraid, if they succeed, they’ll turn the left into an ever diminished rump that, to the rest of the population, comes across as vicious, vindictive, and spiteful, and certainly not a cause they’ll want to be part of.
- Look, I’m told all the time that these angry and bitter people are completely unrepresentative. I know that to be true. In real life, nobody ever comes up to me and behaves like this, not once. Which is probably an argument for spending less time arguing with strangers and more engaging with decent, good-natured people in real life.
- I never wanted to write or do any of the stuff that I do. I only wanted to do it to fight for the things I’ve believed in, and over the last few years I’ve done everything I can in this limited position to expose the injustice of Tory policies, promote alternatives that could build a just society, give a platform to people who are otherwise demonised or airbrushed out of existence, support the labour movement, oppose injustice abroad, and so on. Above all else, I wanted to encourage other people to stand up to injustice and make their voices heard. Yes, I worry now that the things I believe in more than ever face being buried and discredited by a frighteningly right-wing Tory government, not because those things aren’t right and popular, but because of totally avoidable failures, yes, even despite all the odds stacked against any movement that seeks to confront injustice. That’s not because I’m a traitor, or a turncoat, or corrupt, but because it’s a sincere fear that haunts every moment of my waking existence, and something I’m beyond desperate to avoid.
- I only wanted to do what I do to make a useful and constructive contribution to the causes I believe in. I don’t even enjoy writing, I do it to champion the things I believe in with all my heart. It is getting to the point where I’m not sure whether I can do that, whether there’s something else I can do with my life that actually helps people. Some write because they enjoy it; maybe some enjoy the limelight (and there’s nothing wrong with it if they do). But I don’t, and there is no point doing something if you think the consequence of what you do – whatever your good intentions – is only harm.
- Whatever the future, I’ll never stop passionately believing in the things I do: a society run in the interests of the majority, not a tiny, a society run for people’s needs and aspirations, not profit, where exploitation, oppression and all injustice is overcome. I still believe that cause will, one day, be vindicated with the right strategy and vision. It’ll be others who achieve it, and they won’t be bitter, or malicious, or vindictive, but people driven by humanity and a sense of justice.
- And yeah, I’m sure there’ll be loads of comments about how self-indulgent all this is. But I won’t read them, afraid. I’d just end with an appeal. If you have beliefs driven by a sense of humanity, then that same sense of humanity should always influence how you behave. We can win, but only if we persuade people that don’t currently think like us. It can be done, but it isn’t easy. One day we’ll do it, and build a world far more just than the one we have today.
He announced he was quitting social media in a Facebook message, saying his experiences online were “utterly depressing”.
“On a daily basis I have angry strangers yelling at me, on the one hand, that I’m responsible for the destruction of the Labour Party,” he writes.
“And on the other, I’m a right-wing sellout careerist who’s allied to Tony Blair and possibly in the pay of the Israeli government.”
In real life, nobody ever comes up to me and behaves like this, not once
He says critics have accused him of using his political views to further his own career and make money from his left wing views.
He says his harshest attackers are “frothing keyboard warriors” and that what is said on social media doesn’t represent real life.
“I’m no longer convinced social media is as useful a tool for political debate and discussion as it once was,” he says.
“In real life, nobody ever comes up to me and behaves like this, not once.
“Which is probably an argument for spending less time arguing with strangers and more engaging with decent, good-natured people in real life.”
He also used the post to attack what he calls a “frighteningly right-wing Tory government”.
However, Owen says he will still use social media to “post articles and videos and the occasional events,” but he just won’t talk about them.