Stephen Collins and his war on the Shinnerbots

Perhaps his mother was frightened by a runaway republican horse when she was expecting him, but this morning Stephen Collins is yet again warning the public against the Shinners under the bed – or surfing the social media anyway.

‘Big two must take fight to SF on social media’ is the title of his article in today’s Irish Times.  You might wonder if that advice isn’t a bit superfluous,  given the firmness of both parties that they won’t even enter a room wearing face protection if that room contains Sinn Féin. But Stephen is employing the old tactic of looking at the next election battle by assuming it’ll be the same as the last one.

And the last one was? Well, it appears that Sinn Féin supporters were ten times more active on Facebook than any other political party in the south. As often is the case, Stephen then tries to have his cake and eat it:

“If Sinn Féin has the energy and the resources to dominate social media and disseminate its message there is nothing wrong with that. Where it begins to get sinister is the way in which the party’s keyboard warriors seek to intimidate people propounding different views.”

Where do you begin with a paragraph like that? With the first sentence, maybe, where Stephen generously allows Sinn Féin supporters to voice their views on social media. In the use of the word “sinister”, as in sinister shadowy figures running the SF party, or sinister plans to turn Ireland into a European Cuba, or…OK, Virginia, we’ll leave that and move on to his “keyboard warriors”. Mmm. What does Stephen use to write his weekly column – a quill? A wax tablet? A chalk and slate? And is a keyboard warrior the same as someone who expresses his or her views on a subject, using a keyboard? Some muddled thinking there, Stephen old bean. And then there’s the ‘intimidation’ thing for those with a differing view. What do these SF ‘keyboard warriors’ do? Threaten to come round and break the windows of the often anonymous opposition? Set fire to their cars?  How exactly do you intimidate someone online?

Maybe it’s by using scary-face emoji icons – you know, those little yellow-faced creatures. It appears that during the last election FG attracted 94 per cent of “Haha” or “Angry” emojis, and FF attracted 90 per cent, whereas SF attracted only 7 per cent. Mmm again. Would that have anything to do with the indefensibility of many FG and FF policies, starting with their refusal to have anything to do with SF?

Stephen warns FF and FG that they can’t allow this ‘Shinnerbot’ (his word) dominance of the social media, otherwise they’ll be like “lambs to the slaughter” in the next election.

It’s quite a long article, so given you’ve just one life you may not want to give it the necessary time of day. Boiled down, it says  too many Sinn Féin supporters are broadcasting their support for that party, and Something Needs To Be Done. Yes indeed. Maybe if more space was made available for republican commentators and letters (yes, Virginia, I had another one spiked this week), they wouldn’t feel the need to concentrate on social media. But that’d be allowing the mainstream media to be shared by the thinking of Shinnerbots. And at all costs, the mainstream media waters must continue to run free of such sinister influences.

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