Jacinda Ardern’s resignation and social media

As an Aussie, I would have welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, with open arms, especially back when the SmugMonster was PM. To hear that New Zealanders have hounded her from office is shocking to say the least. What’s more shocking still is the role social media has played in forcing her out.
Humans have always had the capacity to join a mob and wreak havoc, but social media has manipulated that trait by using algorithms that amplify ‘strong emotions’.
Anger, hate and fear are some of the most powerful and primitive emotions we humans share. It’s scary to think that pieces of code can turn us into mindless hate machines.
And for what?
To sell advertising.
At some point, governments are going to have to criminalise this abuse of power.

Matthew Wright

This week’s resignation of New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was something of a surprise, but for me not too surprising. Her reasons – not enough in the tank for another three-year term – were sound enough. If you haven’t got the energy left for the job, it’s professional to step down, and with an election in 11 months her party needed stability at the top well before the run-up to the polls. But I can’t help thinking about how hard a run Ardern has had of late in any case, thanks to the explosive and often mysogynistic hatred relentlessly levelled at her on local social media. This must, surely, have been an energy-sapping experience.

I should explain for my international readers: Arden has an enormous international profile globally as a progressive world leader. But in New Zealand she has become the focus of an incredible vortex of hate, mostly…

View original post 622 more words

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

57 responses to “Jacinda Ardern’s resignation and social media

  • sherijkennedy

    It will be interesting to see if the politicians of the world will eventually prosecute those who leverage these tactics and spread hate and violence for their own gain, but unfortunately I think the politicians are precisely the ones most likely to capitalize on this medium. They have always used mob-mentality and have often stooped to gaining from mob violence. There have also been many suspected and some proven cases of inciting it for the purpose of political gain. Sad, to be certain.
    I popped over to your blog today to let you know you and your book Vohktah are being discussed on Jacqui Murray’s blog today in a post about Experimental fiction. I spotlighted your book as a great example of a unique work that could potentially be considered part of the experimental genre. I thought you might want to chime in, or at least see the discussion. It’s here, if you’d like: https://worddreams.wordpress.com/2023/01/23/atozchallenge-xperimental-fiction I also hope to be posting a review of the book for you soon. I loved it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Widdershins

    War-leaders are never welcome in times of peace. Just ask Winston Churchill. 🙂 … and the challenges of getting a country safely through the last three years required war leaders. Now that ‘peace’ has been declared, the wolves begin to circle again. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      You’re right, but there’s an irony there. Covid isn’t over, it’s just that all world leaders have decided that things will be so much worse if they don’t pretend that it is. And what do a few dead old people matter?
      NZ opened up just the way Australia did, and now China. Yet the hate goes on. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • daleleelife101.blog

    Even upon resigning Jacinda is doing good… highlighting the challenges politicians with a moral compass face. Let’s hope whatver she does post politics allows here to continue her postive role modelling and contributions.

    Liked by 1 person

  • robbiesinspiration

    Hi Meeks, this is a fascinating article. I had no idea about all of this and I thought Jacinda Arderns was a good PM. The world is a very weird and scary place right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  • mydangblog

    Sadly, rage farming is the new hobby, and good people like Ardern are easy targets when the media cares more about clicks than a decent future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes. 😦 I think the hate is actually coming from a small minority who are manipulated by…who knows. The manipulation could be coming from vested interests that want her out, or it could be as simple and as an algorithm designed to show people what they want to see.
      It’s not that far off from what happens when a mob forms in the real world. It should be criminal, but so far it isn’t. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    • sherijkennedy

      Very good point that the media profits as much or more than powers behind the hate-speech. I can remember when reporters and news anchors were held responsible for their stories, content and moral character. That fell along the wayside, and now every citizen can be a reporter with hardly any oversight whatsoever.
      I’m finding the debates on whether or not social media companies should censor, very compelling. I’m generally for free speech, but so much manipulation is occurring since so many consider these sources as ‘facts’. And then of course there’s the issue of Who will be the power who censors it, and what is their power agenda?

      Liked by 2 people

      • acflory

        Hi Sheri, thanks for joining the conversation. If social media were ‘neutral’ I wouldn’t consider censorship. Unfortunately, it’s not. Those algorithms are designed specifically to seek out strongly emotive content and then provide more and more of the same in order to keep users on that social media platform…and exposed to the advertising.
        If most people searched for what they were interested in, this would not be a problem. But they don’t. They see recommendations and it’s easier to follow them than to search manually, especially when the titles are ‘click bait’. This is how ‘bubbles’ form.
        If nothing else, I’d like those algorithms stopped. That still leaves the whole fake news problem, but there are already laws against fraud so perhaps ALL peddlers of fake news should be prosecuted. Like that awful man who said the Sandy Hook Massacre was a fake. If money is the only consequence that moves these people then we should hit them where it hurts the most. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • sherijkennedy

          I absolutely vote with my money. I think it’s the only thing that works.
          Yes, the bubble issue is so frightening since huge numbers of people don’t even understand that they’re in one. It seems to hinder any chance of education and expansion and keep one in the same circle of ignorance.
          Even those who have open and eager minds are slowed in their progress to learn more and have little chance of being exposed to new things. It’s part of why I love the blogging community. We can express deeper and broader thoughts with longer articles, and then – best of all – we can have thoughtful, and in my experience, generally respectful conversations to discover more and help each other grow. It’s the best!! Thanks for you thoughtful and caring voice.

          Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            -nods- I don’t know if this has happened to you but…have you ever tried to second guess yourself, to see if you’ve inadvertently become part of a bubble without even knowing it?
            I would have said no, of course not, except that I’m now looking back on my time on Twitter, and the almost constant anger I felt at the conspiracy theorists, and I wonder how much of that anger was due to being shown things that made me angry?
            And I’m pretty self aware.
            Curiously, the anger dissipated when I gave up on Twitter and spent more time blogging again. So I think you’re right about the blogging community.

            Liked by 1 person

          • sherijkennedy

            Yes, there are shopping bubbles too. I notice if I look at Facebook wall I’m shown all similar types of ads. Because I support artists, many of them are creative and beautiful, but they spotlight types of products I’ve recently purchased, and I always wonder what else is out there that I’m missing.
            I’m glad you found a way to let the anger go. Becoming riled about something you can affect is alright, but constant agitation is fruitless, as I’m sure you know. I have more trouble with getting depressed when I tune it to too much of it. So I look in small doses with a mind on what I’m truly seeing.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            This: ‘I always wonder what else is out there that I’m missing.’ Yes! Even when I do manual searches I rarely go past the first page or two, so really I’m trusting the search engine to show me the most relevant things first…rather than the things they get a kickback from. :/

            Liked by 1 person

          • sherijkennedy

            And even if not a direct kickback to the search engine company, those with the most money can general afford SEO far beyond the artists and artisans, so much of the most creative and amazing products and ideas lie hidden in the digital rubble never to be found unless we connect one by one to each other and tell folks about them. Which is how it always used to be before the internet, I suppose. At least it’s easy to talk with you half way around the world. That’s a remarkable privilege.

            Liked by 1 person

          • acflory

            Yes, the internet was supposed to democratise everything and usher in a brand new world….hah. It was great for a few short years until the corporates figured out how to make money from it, and us.
            And yes, at least we can chat. I know WordPress uses us as a product too, but it’s less obvious here. Or perhaps it’s just that blogs by writers are a special case. Long may we blog!

            Liked by 1 person

      • mydangblog

        It’s a complicated issue for sure, but things aren’t going to get better until those conversations happen and something is done, I agree.

        Liked by 2 people

  • Mick Canning

    The abuse is no surprise – it seems to be what has been normalised by social media – and the other media, too. It seems especially aimed at the better high profile figures, and is certainly (although by no means exclusively) the weapon of choice of the right.

    If she’s up for another challenge, once she’s had some time out, we could do with her as PM in the UK!

    Liked by 1 person

  • DawnGillDesigns

    She’s been such an example of the sort of leader I would like to see more of in our main parties; supportive, compassionate, principled and good humoured. An example to aspire to.

    Liked by 1 person

  • MELewis

    Thank you, Meeka, for sharing! As an ‘international’ reader, I was not aware of the hate campaign against Ardern in NZ and admired her for being such a strong leader. Sadly this is much like Emmanuel Macron in France and Justin Trudeau in Canada, both leaders with great appeal on the global scene but who are reviled by many on home turf. Being a female can’t have made it easier. Hope she finds peace in her decision not to run again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Yes, it’s disturbing to say the least. And for Ardern, the hate won’t stop just because she’s stepping down. Have a look at the link Matthew gave in comments. Apparently she, Ardern, will have to have 24 hour protection for her whole family for quite some time to come because of the crazies. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ellen Buikema

    I believe that she will be sorely missed.
    From a distance, being in the U.S., I’ve read fantastic things about her. She did New Zealand proud.

    Too much bullying everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  • jilldennison

    A damn shame! She, along with Justin Trudeau of Canada, was one of the leaders I most admire in this day and age.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Jacqui Murray

    Here in America. I heard nothing good about her, BUT I bet New Zealanders heard nothing good about our President Trump, either. This is why I avoid international political discussions!

    Liked by 1 person

  • cagedunn

    Isn’t that what they do to all the best/forward-thinking leaders? I was surprised she lasted this long, considering how the hate has been building over the last 12 months.
    Now, if she were Australian, or we had a polly like her in Australia, she’d be my first pick every time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      Yes, yes and Y.E.S. With bells on.
      Why do [most of] our people in power have to be such sociopaths?
      Why can’t there be a test for empathy before anyone is allowed to stand for election?
      Bah, why can’t CEO’s and other people in financial power be tested in the same way?
      -slaps head-
      Wake up you fool! If we did that, there’d be very few people volunteering to be politicians….

      Liked by 1 person

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    IMHO she was the most forward thinking leader in the modern world. Another victim of populism – a path that will cause no end of chaos and regret in the long term.

    Liked by 1 person

  • D. Wallace Peach

    When I heard she was stepping away from another term, I felt sad, Andrea. She was so visionary and compassionate and honest and noble. I was intensely envious of New Zealanders. I hope the old saying doesn’t come to pass for them: You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Same here, Diana. I’m still a bit shocked. In a way though, her resignation highlights something I’ve been thinking about a lot: what kind of people go in for politics, especially in this day and age?
      I fear that most compassionate, good people either never make it past the first barriers or they run a mile from a system that rewards the callous, the dishonest, and the sociopaths.
      Democracy has been all but extinguished by the ‘processes’ guarding the halls of power.

      Liked by 1 person

Don't be shy!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: