Slam dunk. Lambast Michael Gove with a hasty tweet hammered out while drinking my morning coffee. Push the emotional buttons of both Remain people and Scottish pro-Indy people in one go.
*So* much to unpick in a 10 word tweet!
1️⃣ So Michael, you now agree there is a hefty cost to Brexit?
2️⃣ This is a report by experts. Do you trust them now?
3️⃣ If there's a cost to Brexit and Indy, and a cost to breaking unions, why do you favour one not the other? https://t.co/Mlk6JRIXXj
— Jon Worth (@jonworth) February 5, 2021
Impressions: 120k+ (based on Twitter’s Analytics)
Contribution to public understanding of anything: pretty much zero
Contrast that with my detailed blog post yesterday about an issue that has been on my mind for a while, and is really delicate – the ratification of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and its passage through the European Parliament, and the interplay between the TCA and Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol. And a subject that has – in my view – received too little attention.
My Matomo web stats tells me the piece has barely scraped 1000 readers (which is nevertheless more than any non-Brexit blog post of mine ever gets!) and the tweet got 42 retweets and the link was clicked 352 times. About 50 people clicked on the link in the email notification sent when the post was written. A handful of other people have tweeted out the link to the piece, and no-one further up the Brexit news food chain than me. The post has not received a single comment.
At one level this is no surprise. The Gove tweet is simple and easy to digest. The blog post is long and complicated. But it nags nevertheless.
In trying to understand this complex world we inhabit, and to try to come to terms with its ridiculous politics, I crave explainers, I grasp at whatever understanding I can get. I want meaning. But the emotional slam dunk style does not help me there.
Or to take another example – the headaches of new border bureaucracy for companies in the UK. I can read dozens of stories that businesses are up in arms – R. Daniel Kelemen even has an ongoing thread about all of them. But I do not know what all of this means. To what extent is this temporary, to what extent is it permanent? How severe is the dip in cross channel trade really? What part of the lower traffic through Dover is thanks to trucks from Ireland now diverting around England altogether? Are we going to have a situation where we see queues in future – because trade will eventually exceed capacity? Or Brexit has depressed trade so much, even with the extra burdens to trade there is a damage that is permanent? Is the UK Government seeking seriously to solve the problems – designing the truck parks and IT systems as necessary? Or is it fudging? And I am not the only one musing about this. But it is easier to hammer out a quick rant about how bad all of this is, than to actually write the really comprehensive explainer – also knowing full well few will read the explainer anyway. And so the cycle persists.
In other words, I am not short of information – indeed the internet is overflowing with it. But I am short when it comes to understanding the meaning of things. But when I think I have found that meaning of something, and write it up, no-one wants to read it.
Is the perplexing conclusion of all of this that I am one of the few actually searching for meaning?