This post was first published on our sister blog, The Stirrer. As the issues discussed in it equally affect what we do with Grassroots Alternatives, we thought it was worth re-posting it here. To put this into context, we’d also recommend that you read this piece as well, the title of which should be self explanatory: Our strategy 7.11.22.
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Our reach on social media is, to put it politely, being relentlessly throttled. We’ve been told by former comrades that our lack of traction on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook is down to the fact that our way of seeing things is not exactly popular. That’s what they’d like to believe but it’s not the case at all. Let us explain why they’re wrong…
We follow a lot of people on Twitter and only see a fraction of them come up in our feed. That’s not because they’re not posting as when we go to check on them, they’ve been posting pretty frequently. They also experience the same issues we do with their reach being throttled. It’s because of the way Twitter malfunctions and in the process, screws up a lot of the networks that have formed on there over the years. Screwing us up like this is intentional.
Some of the networks we’ve become a part of relentlessly question the narrative we’re getting fed on issues ranging from the response to Covid, the Fourth Industrial Revolution through to the conflict between the NATO backed Ukraine and Russia. The powers that be don’t like that one bit and over the years, they’ve persuaded Twitter to do what they can to frustrate and break up our networks. The change of ownership at Twitter hasn’t made a jot of difference to this. Anyone looking to Elon Musk to be a champion of free speech needs to give their head a wobble.
It’s pretty much the same on Facebook with both The Stirrer and Grassroots Alternatives pages struggling to gain any traction. Obviously with using both Twitter and Facebook, we’re effectively using the enemy’s infrastructure to spread our message. So it’s not exactly a surprise that we’re running into difficulties! The only surprise is that it’s taken so long for this to happen.
We have heard a few people extol the virtues of Kolektiva which is on Mastodon. As an experiment, we did try having an account for The Stirrer on Kolektiva. That lasted less than a week! We were constantly having to walk on eggshells and assess what blog posts we could promote without getting a reprimand or booted off as you can see here. When we realised that we could only safely promote less than half of our posts without getting hassle, we concluded that being on Kolektiva wasn’t worth the effort involved.
Kolektiva is a bubble, a safe space one at that. Which for some people is exactly what they want. As propagandists, our role is to take the argument to people who don’t see things our way and try to engage them in good faith discussion and debate. Funnily enough, a lot of people on Kolektiva don’t see eye to eye with us but the chances of being able to have a debate with them in good faith are pretty much zero. So while being on Twitter is using the enemy’s infrastructure, as things stand at the moment, it’s the least worst option for us.
We’re not going to give up on using social media or blogging because this is the 21st century and we have to have some kind of an online presence. We just need to find a way of getting the best we can from it without letting the hassle involved drive us up the wall.
So where does this leave us? As the title of this piece suggests, moving back towards analogue. Which up until the mid 2000s was pretty much the way we operated. Back in our days in the Independent Working Class Association, while we did have an online presence of sorts, our main point of contact were the newsletters we produced for door to door distribution and the canvassing we did in the build up to the elections.
Before 2000, most events from protests to meetings and conferences were built using analogue methods. That involved talking to people on paper sales, street meetings, fly-posting and putting up stickers. It certainly involved a lot more in the way of real life, face to face conversations. The thing about face to face conversations is that bonds are formed and if at the end of it, someone committed to attending a protest or a conference, you could be pretty certain they would stick to their word. That’s not something you can guarantee when someone clicks the ‘going’ button on Facebook, is it?
Handing out papers to people on protests or at events where we can have a proper face to face conversation is still our preferred way of communicating with people. This applies to The Stirrer papers we handed out on some of the anti-lockdown protests in London and the Alternative Estuary / Grassroots Alternatives https://grassrootsalternatives.uk/papers/ papers we hand out at protests, vegan fairs and other events. We’re close to finishing the distribution of the current issue of Grassroots Alternatives and plan to have another one out before the start of spring: Our next paper is coming… 22.12.22.
There are leaflets and flyers but, as we’re not sure whether we’ll be having a stall at any events during 2023, that’s something we’ll put on the back burner for a while. We prefer to turn up at events with the papers, stay for an hour or so, have some interesting conversations and then depart. Sitting behind a stall for eight hours or more has pretty much lost any appeal for us these days to be honest.
Then there are the stickers and the posters. These are tried and tested methods of getting a message across. Basically, Tweets in physical form on walls and lamp posts:) A tactic we used when we were back in Essex and one we’re continuing to use now we’re down in Somerset. If placed in the right location, the message will probably get eyeballed more than any of our Tweets. These are the Posters and Stickers pages for The Stirrer. These are the Free posters and Free stickers pages for Grassroots Alternatives.
Last but by no means least, moving back towards analogue methods of getting our message across is the start of extricating ourselves from the high tech matrix that will leave us with neither privacy or freedom. A matrix that all of us have become far too dependent on. A matrix that to all intents and purposes is enemy territory. A matrix that we and a growing number of others ultimately want to dismantle…