Twitter fight like a scene from Chandler
Spectator columnist Andrew Dreschel invokes 1930s detective fiction writer Raymond Chandler in this piece about a Twitter cat fight. It’s a great read and a good tutorial on the burgeoning Hamilton mayoral campaign. (Image: Spectator Archives)
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Perhaps it was the muggy weather that provoked it.
Or maybe it’s just the overall political climate in this city.
Regardless, the cat fight that erupted on Twitter over Ward 1 Councillor and mayoral candidate Brian McHattie’s campaign vow to visit all the city’s neighbourhoods in 100 days was both hilarious and despairing.
It put me in mind of writer Raymond Chandler’s description of how a hot desert wind can make nerves jump, skin itch and booze parties end in fights.
“Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ neck,” Chandler wrote. “Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
In this case, McHattie’s photo-op brought out the kind of political shivs and blades that lend validity to the notion that perhaps social media might more accurately be called anti-social media.
It may not be the “dark place” that Mayor Bob Bratina famously complained about, but it’s amply dappled and oftentimes poisonously dank.
For those who have ignored the siren’s song of Twitter, Wikipedia neatly sums it up as an online social networking service that lets users send and read short 140-character text-based messages called “tweets.”
Introduced in 2006, the service has something like 645 million registered users worldwide, including some 11 million in Canada.
As with other online networking services, Twitter at its best connects people through shared information and experiences; at its worst, it’s a platform for humble bragging, self-promotion, snarkiness, sarcasm, and shameless partisanship.
I can’t pretend to have followed all the threads linked to McHattie’s city tour, but I got the smelly drift. A lot of the mockery and groin kicks took place between McHattie’s and mayoral candidate Fred Eisenberger’s devotees. Computer warriors charged, factional acolytes chided.
By my reckoning, the first sneer came from Chris Cutler, Eisenberger’s campaign manager, who tweeted: “Welcome to the campaign Brian. We were wondering where you were. Campaigning for mayor means leaving your ward.”
That set off a burst of finger-wagging from tweeters offended by Cutler’s tone, including this one from Graham Crawford, McHattie’s media co-ordinator: “Chris – really? I’m honestly surprised at this comment. Were you hacked or is this really yours?”
Community activist and former mayoral and council candidate Matt Jelly jumped in to defend McHattie with this jab: “Where has Fred been for the last 4 years? Is his interest in Hamilton limited to being Mayor?”
And this one: “Where was Fred when we were fighting off a casino in the core? He was silent on the issue.”
Greg Crone, an Eisenberger policy adviser during his tenure as mayor, unleashed a blistering string of tweets poking fun at McHattie’s tour. Suggesting McHattie is a tourist in his own town, Crone likened him to Indiana Jones emerging from his ward to discover the “lost city” of Hamilton.
Former mayor Larry Di Ianni, who endorses Eisenberger for mayor, observed that McHattie’s tour creates a “just visiting” image. That led to escalating harsh exchanges with Jelly, with other users defending one or the other or just scoffing at the silliness of it all.
I somehow got dragged into the fray when a McHattie partisan inaccurately tweeted that I once “accused” the councillor of being a “ward heeler.”
I tweeted a response then tuned out, the Twitter equivalent of hanging up. That felt good. It also brought to mind another line from Chandler: “It was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hid under the desk.”