The revolution will not be televised. Instead it will be filmed and snapped on a million devices, by people who don’t know how to use a camera, but have a compulsive need to record everything of interest that passes before their eyes.
Scottish independence will be tweeted, blogged, pinned, facebooked, instagrammed, vlogged, tagged.
To put aside thee novelty of these media it is vitally important to remember that the current state of affairs in Scotland would not have been possible outside of the digital age.
In previous decades, without the backing of a major news outlet, Scottish independence withered on the vine, as the current sustained negativity of the media reminds us all too clearly.
Personally, what I find to interesting about Scottish identity is the fact that its relationship to “nationalism” is far from simple. There may have been a time when political parties and a client media could frame the terms of the debate, but not any more.
To an extent social media has turned such certainties on their head in a remarkably short space of time. We no longer need institutions to mediate who we think we are, instead we choose who we are, and then publish that choice. I think this is a major reason why Scotland will become an independent country.
Now pleased don’t misunderstand me. There was a lot of very boring talk about how important social media was in the last election. It didn’t affect my voting intentions, or those of anyone I’ve met. The press however lapped up this notion.
My point is simply that it is easy to get over excited and miss the point about what all of this means. Many journalists miss the fact that social media obsessives don’t do much other than update their accounts. In doing so they may create the illusion of thought or creativity, but this is often a fairly transparent illusion. On an individual level, it’s very much a world of spin where originality is rarely the prevailing currency. It is however the ideal space for an individual to express who they are, that’s all.
However, that’s not to say that such activity cannot be mobilised, and indeed groups form with remarkable ease in this new world. When the young get together online interesting things are bound to happen.
Taking for example National Collective the arts website that oligarch Ian Taylor of oil giant Vitol, recently tried to silence.
In the month’s before this incident, numerous hip and not so hip faces appeared with notes scrawled in biro stating, “I am National Collective”. In the context of this now notorious attempt at corporate censorship the phrase has a new resonance. It sums up what the impendence debate is about, a few (old) vested interests trying to silence many (young) voices that are relishing their chance to be heard.
The ire of a Tory millionaire has demonstrated that the “digital generation” in Scotland has just grown up – it’s prepared to see the world around it and say that age, privilege, wealth don’t make you beyond question. Collectively.
If social media is the ability of each individual to publish their own newspaper each day an organisation like Vitol, the SNP, or indeed any institution with an agenda, is instantly scotched.
We are privileged to live in an era in which if people want to identify with something they can’t be stopped from doing so in public. In our age causes that once resided below the surface suddenly find a new dynamism, without the need for a large organisational apparatus.
It’s therefore no coincidence that a cause like Scottish self-determination (one that has been spat upon by every mainstream media institution for the best part of a century) has at last found its true expression in the digital age.
At its crux independence is about stating, with a mix of honesty and idealism, who we are. It also shows why we have to get to a stage where we see the digital world, not as novelty, but as the one that we inhabit now.
Whether we like it or not the revolution will be #live.