Bloggers are dilettantes.
There have been no posts on here for the past couple of weeks as I have worked 15 out of the last 16 days, usually doing a 12 hour shift. Eating, sleeping and playing with the kids have seemed more appropriate uses of the spare time I have had than waxing lyrical on the Euro, the US budget deficit or the English riots of 2011. Now my shifts from hell are finished, and I am back to being a dilettante, I have four brief things to say on the riots.
I have tried to match the enthusiasm of Ian Bone for recent events. I have always regarded Ian as the best polemical writer of his generation, but suspect there is a significant gap on this issue between his perception and reality on the ground. In the seventeen years I have lived in Hackney there have been several disturbances that have seen both police and/or Hackney Town Hall targetted by an angry public. The Hackney riot seemed to balance a desire for some confrontation with the police (no where was there the straight up, sustained flighting with the cops we saw nationally in 1981 or 1985) with the desire to steal fashionable items. Where the later was not possible, small businesses were attacked. What sort of uprising leaves the local power - Hackney Council - untouched, but Footlocker ransacked?
Twitter and Blackberry have copped the 'blame' in certain circles for enabling the past weeks violence. I have to confess I do not even know how to use the Blackberry Messaging on my phone, perhaps reinforcing the view that I am of the generation that was too young for 1981 and 1985, and too old for 2011. More seriously, to see the 'democrats' that were all in favour of social media when it was supposedly challenging the autocrats of the Middle East, now calling for restrictions upon it in the UK, tells us all we need to know about their personal commitment to democratic values. Cameron would soon turn into Mubarak if he were genuinely threatened.
Twitter though is a tool we should be prepared to criticise. On Monday 8 August it was tweeted that the London Fields area of Hackney was to be avoided, as a gang of black kids was mugging people for their bikes. This included a request to retweet this information. When I cycled between Broadway Market and London Fields not long after 8.30pm that night I saw a few kids hanging about, but nothing to suggest the area was scene to sustained anti-social crime. Despite this the tweet was still being re-tweeted the following afternoon, when it was far from valid information. Twitter may be a method of spreading valuable, up to the minute news - but it can just as easily be used to spread information that is stale or even inaccurate.
Finally when is a group of mono-cultural men protecting their small businesses with weapons progressive, and when is it reactionary? From the type of guff I have read on Twitter and the Internet over the past few days, we should all be terrified by white men guarding against looters in Eltham and Enfield, but encouraged by the sight of Turkish, Sikh and Muslim men guarding against looters in Hackney, Southall and Birmingham.