When Bloggers Meet…

The Big Tweet Up…a meeting of Bloggers on the Belfast “blogging scene”….the MetroTextuals….took place last Thursday night in McHughs Bar in Custom House Square.
It was a fitting venue, just across the square from The steps at tne Custom House, where political and religious speakers used to harangue, educate and amuse the good people of Belfast.
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A statue (sculptor Gareth Knowles) called “The Speaker” now stands at the Custom House. It has always struck me that the “The Speaker” and his colleagues on the steps were actually the bloggers of the late Victorian and Edwardian era.
Back then they were keeping an eye on the Czar of Russia, the German Kaiser and of course local poiticians.
And thats what 21st century bloggers do…Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and local politicians.
Many of you will note that I use a photograph of “The Speaker” as the avator (whatever that is) for this Blog.
The Big Tweet Up…and I am not a big fan of that “insider” term was much trailed on Slugger O’Toole. The brainchild of David McCann. So …it is surprising that there has been no report or follow up in the last few days.
Hence …THIS Blog.
I was certainly skeptical.

Did it work? Very much so. And David is to be congratulated on that.
There is a problem with Bloggers.
We have a reputation of being anti-social. Curiously I think we NEED to be anti-social. Being anti-social is in fact a form of protection for a keyboard warrior.
Being a keyboard warrior…political “Comic Book Guys”…is of course an absurdity that I celebrate. I celebrate my pomposity…”keeping an eye on the Czar of Russia” is of course a form of words to point up our self-importance. Or my take on the self-importance of the broader community.
You are probably all familiar with the movie “The Wizard of Oz” …and you will know that when Dorothy and her friends reach the Emerald City…and Toto pulls away the curtain and reveals the all-powerful Wizard to be a little old man with a big microphone.
Thats what a keyboard warrior is.
Thats the awful truth about Fitzjames Horse. Take away the computer screen and…I am a little old man.
At McHughs, I was told on three occasions that I am “much nicer in real life”. Well of course I am…I am downright adorable.
And on one occasion, a fellow blogger told me that I was “much more laid back” than my internet persona. Well yes…of course I am. I am 61 years of age, retired and I have outlived all my fears. I have a lot to be laid back about.
And the only thing that really irritates me is…Hypocrisy…especially my own.

I had no real opinion on whether the Big Tweet Up was a good idea.
See…the more events like this I go to…the more I realise that a lot of it is about “networking” and I dont do “networking”. I dont have a career so nobody can enhance my CV. Likewise, nobody will find me a useful contact.
But it is more than “networking”. Blogging is not actually about typing stuff on a computer. It is as much about finding out things to store in the filing cabinet in your brain, until it is actually important.
Nobody seems to be rushing to publish about Thursday night.
What did they learn? Well…apparently that I am a laid back, pretty nice guy. But they all have the grace not to mention it and blow my reputation as a cantankerous aul lad.
What did I learn about them?
Well…with the caveat that I did not mingle very much…or at all, I learned that the people I met are pretty decent guys.

Thats actually how Life is. And particuuarly in Belfast.
The real divisions are not nationalist and unionist…men and women…socialist and capitalist.
The real division is between Decent People and Not-So-Decent People.
And its heartening that Belfast continues to be the kinda place, where Decency abounds in spite of…or even BECAUSE of Division.

It was always thus.
Those of us who work or worked…will know that Office Politics is beyond Ordinary Politics.
We are all familiar with the phrase “Your Owns The worst”…meaning your co-religious boss or fellow-nationalist colleague will be a bastard…and that the people you might expect not to be on your “side” will happily stick a knife between your shoulders.
And likewise the Hobbyist…the angler, the pigeon racer and the postcard collector knows that the friendliest and most supportive people are from the other side of the sectarian divide.
So never let Politics and Religion come into the Workplace, University or Sports Club.

But the world of Blogging is the exact opposite. And Politics. And Political Blogging.
While sectarianism dilutes our humanity…friendship (arguably) dilutes political blogging.
Putting a face to a keyboard adversary is…very human.
Computers arent human.
Of course I am a CONVICTION Blogger.
I am a Socialist, I am a Republican, I am a Nationalist.
And really there are two distinct types of Blogger.
Those of us who are committed to Politics…to advance the cause of a set of principles and self-interests and there are those attracted to the non-science of Politics.

About the event itself. A short speech by a guy from the Local Government Association. A stand up Comedian.

Perhaps the “flat beer” moment was Belfast Mayor, Mairtin O’Muiileoir.
When he came into the Basement Bar, he went round every table shaking hands …but it was without any eye contact…and very very quickly.
He made a short speech, noting that his Buddhist chaplain (he has ten chaplains) …a Guy from Andytown who lives in San Francisco had cautioned him to delete any Twitter followers who are “negative”.
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Hmmm….does he mean people like me? or am I paranoid?
Or maybe its the mayor who is paranoid?
I must check my 140 Twitter followers to see if he is still there.
The irony is that I have actually warmed to Mairtin and his endless feel good stuff in the Ulster Tatler. Although I should point out that David McCann introduced him as “someone we like on Slugger O’Toole” …I think that was the gist of it.
Anyway, I was a bit disappointed that the Mayor didnt hang around long enough for me to get a “selfie” with him.

But most of the night was very pleasant.
Congrats to David McCann for organising it.

Let Normal Hostilities Resume!

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