Our best 3G signal for getting onto the internet was found at the top of the rise. All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Since I’ve returned from Climate Camp in Edinburgh the media backlash against us has began. Perhaps we have grown complacent about our cosy relationship with the mainstream media over the past few years? Thwarted in their desire for juicy riot porn the Guardian instead turned to the trouble I had been experiencing on twitter since the start of camp, when one troll turned into two, which then turned into a whole host of the little critters. Because trolls always have friends and they know how to find each other. And once they do they like to have a feeding frenzy.
The media team: small but very hard working.
So how did this all start? Well, unfortunately I feel very much to blame and I’ve learnt my lesson. At the start of this year I went on an anti EDL march in London, and whilst there I picked up a follower of the EDL sympathising persuasion. Now, I’ve never followed him, but we did engage in conversation every now and again on twitter. He’s a very persistent sort of chap, and I thought “ow, bless, he’s sadly misguided but essentially a sweet man despite his extreme right wing nationalistic views – maybe he’ll learn something if he follows me.” He even offered to help out with my website. Well, that was my biggest mistake: EDL sympathisers are not for the turning. So, he knew about the #climatecamp hashtag from me, and he made it his personal business to stalk me on it throughout Climate Camp – describing me as his #twittercrush and Climate Camp Vamp on @replies to my personal twitter feed, loitering on the perimeter of the campsite and offering me lifts home from Edinburgh in his “gun metal Aston” when I tweeted about waiting for the bus… and posting offensive tweets to all and sundry through the #climatecamp hashtag which only served to attract even more horrible little trolls from far and wide. Anthropogenic global warming denialists, fascists, homophobes, racists, sexists – you name it, they all came running.
People of all ages come to Climate Camp.
I managed to ignore these trolls – because what else can you do? Like a greedy little pug, if you feed them they just keep coming back for more. It looked like things might die down as the camp started to wind up. And then. James Randerson on the Guardian environment blog saw fit to publish an article featuring some tweets from these trolls – “Twitter Backfires” screeched the headline. As if a few trolls would stop interested people and Climate Camp supporters from going straight to the Climate Camp twitter feed (wow, what a novel idea!) or reading through to the interesting and relevant tweets in the #climatecamp stream rather than fatuous fake retweets reinforcing every known stereotype of “hippy activist”. We are all posh, anarchist, crybaby, smelly, student, lentil chomping, yurt dwelling, marxists. Wow! I’d really love to meet someone who embodies all of those things in one person!
Just some of the very happy well-adjusted children on Climate Camp.
The outcome of the Guardian blog? It fed the trolls a huge amount of publicity and unwittingly condoned their actions… and by default their opinions. This on the environment blog of a left leaning newspaper – which supposedly supports our actions. And here it was saying our protest was a failure purely because we didn’t “own” the twittersphere. Sour grapes because we didn’t provide them with the exciting coverage the mainstream media demands of us? Seems like it to me. And utter bullshit. Because at the end of the day most people on Climate Camp don’t use twitter – and have no idea of this storm on a Tweetdeck. They couldn’t care less – they were on camp, taking direct action together, on the site of the HQ, in an RBS branch in Edinburgh, handing out leaflets about tarsands, marching with locals on the proposed site of a huge new open cast coal mine or teaching subversive lyrics at an impromptu performance on a Fringe stage. There are so many other ways to reach people, and twitter is but one tool in the outreach box.
Changing the straw bales in the loos.
Suddenly the trolls were back in business. And so I’ve spent the past few days doing my best blocking irrelevant trolls and aborting the #climatecamp hashtag amongst supportive followers. It’s been a swift learning curve. But one big thing I’ve realised is this: you can’t change some people. I should have blocked my troll the minute he started following me. I still think he’s a sad misguided individual – one with an awful lot of lonely time on his hands to spend a whole week trolling on the #climatecamp hashtag – but he’s also a massive arse to take such pleasure out of petty nastiness. The fact that he claims to care about the environment “I plant trees” – big woop-de-doo – makes his actions particularly noxious. What’s more he’s a passive aggressive EDL sympathiser with far right leanings who rather scarily knows an awful lot about me and The Guardian has given him and his ilk a legitimacy that is far from worthy. But to equate a problem on twitter with a wholesale failure of the camp is just ridiculous; whilst this whole episode may personally have made my life quite unpleasant, none of this will affect those who are committed to taking direct action as part of Climate Camp. So in the end a big old #fail for the trolls. I’d like to believe they are even now scuttling back into their little troll homes… but I doubt they will be able to stop their fingers from itching towards the keyboard.
Now, where do these go?
Climate Camp is accessible to all.
Trolls: a few words. This blog is moderated and you aren’t welcome on here. I wholly reserve the right to delete you. You’ve been warned.
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- Shutting down Didcot Power Station