The “golfgate” trial was dismissed last week. One wonders did it matter anyway since the court of public opinion had already tried and convicted all involved when it happened?

It’s the world we live in now where “cancel culture” and disdain for the establishment is played out online. That is epitomised in “golfgate” and “champagnegate” and “merriongate” and whatever-you’re-having-yourself-“gate”.

Social media now acts as judge and jury and a quasi licence for a pile on, outrage, public ridicule and reputational damage.

It comes free of filters and lack of respect for libel, slander or the court of law.

Fear of being trolled is subconsciously dictating the agenda of the day

There’s little doubt but politicians and media outlets are influenced more and more by the bell weather that is social media. Fear of being trolled is subconsciously dictating the agenda of the day.

It doesn’t take much effort to trend on Irish Twitter. If a person, a group or well-mobilised political movement wishes to make an example of somebody in a public setting, they can cynically do so.

And the fear is that it may in turn influence the actions and opinions of decision makers, politicians and journalists in making unpopular choices or statements which goes again populist narratives.

We need to remind ourselves that the noise on social media isn’t a proportionate representation of broad public opinion. Yet it’s become the tail wagging the dog.

Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is anothe

Yes, the upside of the social media revolution has given voice to those not privileged or powerful enough to have opinions or views publicly heard. That is good. Free speech is one thing. Hate speech is another. But, finding the thin line between both is a problem for some living in the shouty groupthink echo chambers of Twitter and Facebook. If you are so inclined to hitch your wagon to the anti-establishment wing of social media– be it left or right – you’re getting bang for your buck by feeling freer to say what you like about what you don’t like irrespective of tone or taste.

It seems that when it comes to politics, it’s not what’s said, but who says it. For example, you could ask a sample of active politically focused Twitter worshippers what they think about the following statement read by a TD in the Dáil recently: “Ireland will be the best country in Europe to live in for young people by 2030.”

For many their response would not be based on the statement, but rather who actually made the statement. That is tribal politics playing out online where any opposing view is piled upon and shut down.

Arguably Brexit is the UK’s manifestation of this tribal nationalistic division in politics

That is where we are at in politics here, in the US and in the UK. A Coming Storm is a brilliantly researched and edited BBC podcast series which gives a chilling insight in to the murkier world of social media which was and is used to create false narratives, lies and conspiracy theories that has helped steer the US into the toxic right/left divide that defines its social and cultural landscape right now. Arguably Brexit is the UK’s manifestation of this tribal nationalistic division in politics.

So in Ireland, is this the binary route we want to go which hitches itself to various forms of ideology and anti-establishmentarianism above all the other economic and social considerations of a modern functioning democratic society?

Younger voters are being brainwashed into blind loyalty politics on all sides. Be careful what you wish for.

Leading the way

It was a beautiful cheer in Kingspan Breffni during the Cavan v Wexford league match last Sunday. Between the various announcements about subs and so on, Leona Maguire was congratulated with a big shout out. She is the first Irish woman to win an LPGA tournament. Irish women in sport continue to lead the way.