cybernats

Confessions of a “cabernat” or how to behave when doorstepped by a Scottish Daily Mail journalist.

As one of those non-anonymous folk selected for inclusion in Wee Ruthie Davidson’s select band of “cabernets”, I confess to being particularly interested in the recent media coverage of “cybernats” as a result of yesterday’s events. Leaving my house in Sussex en route for the London bound train, I was surprised to be doorstepped by a journalist representing the Scottish Daily Mail. As someone identified as active online posting about the Scottish independence referendum, he wanted some personal background information and my views on the debate around the use of the term cybernat. He explained it was for a potential piece in the paper and that they would be contacting other people with similar views.

In truth I’m still unsure about the wisdom of even interacting with a title whose whole outlook I find both morally bankrupt and politically loathsome. I may come to rue the decision of course. However I decided to give as good an account of my conversion to the cause of Scottish independence as the 10 minute walk to the 8.40 AM train allowed. I explained why I thought it would be a good thing for both Scotland and the rest of the UK, my personal disillusionment with the prospects for change within the UK and my distaste for the current political environment with UKIP gaining support and an EU exit increasingly likely. He asked me general questions about my background, what I thought about being labelled a cybernat and if I thought it was a negative term. He even asked me if I’d ever thought about being a politician (to which of course the answer is “Hell, No!).

I also expressed frustration with the main stream media and its perceived anti-independence bias and highlighted the recent University of the West of Scotland media report, and my view whilst online abuse came from both sides it seemed both more copious and more vitriolic from the No camp. I wondered why politicians, party hacks and their media supporters from the unionist side appeared to get a free pass from the media for some extraordinarily negative or even abusive comments, whereas any nationalist or pro-independence commentator would be crucified for much less.

Finally I pointed out that in general the weighting of many debates and indeed general media coverage, appeared fatally skewed in favour of the unionist side because they frequently field representatives of the three unionist parties versus one from the SNP, which is hardly representative of the binary choice facing Scots in September.

All in all I was somewhat taken aback by the experience, although given that my name and profile are public it didn’t bother me that they had tracked me down. The journalist said that they would be contacting others and I found out later via twitter that a few other presumed cybernats had indeed received similar visits. A few of my neighbours and my wife received visits following up on the journalists “walk and write” on the way to the station, no doubt to ensure that I wasn’t in fact the Sussex equivalent of Rab C. Nesbitt hiding my atavistic “Hail Caledonia!” complex under a veneer of reasonableness.

What is more interesting however is what the motivation for researching such a piece could be, and why now? Does it show the nervousness of the Main Stream Media (MSM) at being by-passed by citizen-led new media? Are they troubled by the rise of pro-indy sites like Wings Over Scotland, Newsnet and National Collective and their ability to raise funds via crowd sourcing?

Whether the piece ever sees the light of day remains to be seen. I will await it with interest if it does; all I have to do now is find some way of reading it that doesn’t involve actually buying the Daily Mail!

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