Tony Groves

Rule Number 1 of Christmas Day: Don’t mention politics on Christmas Day.

Rule Number 2: Always remember rule Number 1.

I had several reports of people who, sure that they weren’t one of ‘those’ families, decided to ignore the rules. I’m not sure what’s worse, ignoring the rules, or the realisation that your cool brother in law isn’t really cool with repealing the 8th?

For so many of us the Christmas dinner table is the first time outside of our echo chamber since, well, last years Christmas dinner.

The peculiar thing is that we, being so wise, are so taken aback by the differences of opinion across the turkey and ham table. Of course, we’ve spent all year saying that the opinion polls are crap and that there’s no way 56% of people think socks, selfies and spin make a good Taoiseach.

The realisation that we are wrong makes swallowing the customary Brussels sprouts all the more difficult. The truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Around the table the right wing (I’m a centrist!) agenda of apathy and I’m alright Jack conversation flows.

Many think, no, many believe that Fine Gael and not the sacrifice of the Irish people rescued the country. Many think, no, many are adamant that the government are doing a good job. Many, many more are opposed, down to their Indo-reading bones, with the idea of left wing concepts.

They are not the problem. We are. We’ve wasted 364 days talking to each other about the wonderful ideas we all agree on. We’ve engaged with anonymous trolls who are nothing but time vampires. But we never spoke to the people around our dinner table.

We’ve squabbled about Labour’s place on the Left. We’ve decried concessions as selling out. We’ve reduced left wing cohesion to a Brendan Ogle column in the Sunday Business Post. Worst of all, we have allowed the tsunami of the water movement to be reduced down to a Phil Hogan trickle.

Something has to change and it starts at the dinner table. It starts with joining the dots.

We join the dots. Whenever Leo Varadkar says that salary increases could endanger the economy WE must point out the hypocrisy of him getting a €21,000 pay rise.

We join the dots. When your brother says that it’s a testament to the strength of the economy that Ireland has repaid Denmark’s €400m loan early ask him does that house any of the 3,333 homeless children.

We join the dots. When an old friend explains that she knows a family looking for help from St Vincent De Paul who have two televisions, ask her why that’s a crime and screwing 40,000 Tracker Mortgage holders into debt (and death) for nearly a decade is not.

We join the dots. When your pal in your local says that the multinationals will leave if we make them pay tax, explain that we are, according to the OECD, the best tax haven in the world YET only get one sixth of the jobs from Multinationals that non havens do.

At every water cooler moment we join the dots. At every lazy newspaper Op-ed we join the dots. We forget about infighting. We forgive ourselves and others for slights and we take the fight to the barrage of bullshit that is the machinery of State.

We act as our own Strategic Communications Unit, our goal/mission statement/blue sky thought is simple: Join the Dots!

Join the dots. That’s my New Years Resolution. That’s this blog. That’s the Echo Chamber Podcast. That’s my Twitter timeline. That’s my dinner table.

We join the dots in 2018. You’re welcome to join me.

Tony Groves is the co-host of the Echo Chamber Podcast and blogs at EchoChamberPod
You can Subscribe to the Echo Chamber Podcast by clicking here for iTunes or here For SoundCloud,

58 thoughts on “Join The Dots

  1. bisted

    …for my New Year resolution I’m going to be especially nice to people on-line…in the meantime Tony you can FRO…

        1. Charger Salmons

          Really ?
          He writes a lucid article calling for open debate and a willingness to consider the other side’s point of view and you think this makes him beneath contempt.
          You have my pity but given the nature of some of your other posts not my surprise.

          1. bisted

            …not sure I would consider Tony in any way contemptuous…some of his podcasts have been great and his boiler story features are quite prophetic. He can be quite funny at times but I don’t think he posesses the sense of humour he thinks he has…he seems to spend a lot of time whinning about people who don’t agree with him and calling them names…so Tony…in the few days before I turn Mr Nice Guy…fro…and the special purpose vehical you rode in on…

    1. Cian

      Tony. If you read broadsheet comments you will see a range of opinion.

      The problem, as I see it, is that you call anyone that disagrees with you a troll. It’s not the internet that is an echo chamber, it’s you.

  2. Andrew

    “For so many of us the Christmas dinner table is the first time outside of our echo chamber since, well, last years Christmas dinner.”

    Well Tony, maybe a good New Year’s resolution for you; would be to get out of your echo chamber more often.
    I suspect you won’t though.

  3. Charger Salmons

    Nice piece.
    Reality.
    It’s like the Mike Tyson quote.
    ” Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”
    There’ll be many people flying home from Ireland this weekend with a piece of Mam’s Christmas cake in their carry-on bag and remembering why they left in the first place.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      au contraire , reminded me why I came back
      love my pack of savages
      fights and all, yes my sister and I may have touched on politics over the goose

  4. Harry Molloy

    Good piece Tony and I completely agree with the need for people to step outside their echo chambers.

    The internet is fantastic, an endless source of information, but one of the phenomena that is occurring, maybe unsurprisingly, is that people are flocking to others groups whose opinions match their own. The news the read is interpreted in a manner that matches their own political leanings. They “like” comments they agree with and get the warm fuzzies when their group agrees with them. They surround themselves with the confirmation that they are right in all matters, their opinions are the ones which are valid, and others are incorrect. The internet has fostered the age of confirmation bias.

    The result is that people aren’t exposing themselves or their opinions to challenge or debate and can lead people to become increasingly dogmatic and unwilling to discuss, compromise, or work together. I think this is particularly visible in the fragmented nature of those parties who would identify as being left in this country. But it is mostly just visible in online world.

    I think we could all do with dipping our toes into the other end every so often, we might learn something and at the very least your own arguments will become more robust if you open them up to challenge. And you might even learn to empathize with your opponent as most people are coming from a place of sincerity and are trying to do the right thing.

    So I suppose we could learn from those commenters that some around here would described as right wing, at least they’re brave enough to hang around here and have their views challenged ;-)

    1. Charger Salmons

      Good thought-provoking piece.
      There’s a lot to be said for the argument that the internet,instead of encouraging independent thought,has merely made it easier for large numbers of people to be easily manipulated.
      You’ve only got to look at universities in some countries where controversial debate is discouraged,” safe spaces ” have been created and history is being re-written.
      British and American universities want to strip their campuses of any vestiges of the empires and slave trade that created them in the first place to make themselves feel better about their virtue signalling.
      There’s a brave and noble Professor at Oxford University called Nigel Biggar who is heading up a research group to appraise the pros and cons of the ethics of British colonialism against a huge backlash from fellow academics who don’t believe he should even be considering the subject.

      http://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/dec/22/oxford-university-accused-of-backing-apologists-of-british-colonialism

      In the great social uprisings in Eastern Europe towards the end of the last century it was the students and trade unionists setting up the barricades.
      Today they’d be setting up Facebook groups to comfort each other.

        1. Charger Salmons

          This morning you were saying there will be a 2nd referendum and Brexit will never happen.
          Now you’re asking what will happened when it is reversed.
          You could try to keep a consistent line for at least one day …

          1. Taunton

            I disagree on your view of brexit, but I enjoy your musings on other subjects. Many on here treat brexit like the abortion debate, your position on it colours their opinion of you on all.

          2. Charger Salmons

            With regard to the abortion debate I have long argued,including on here,that Ireland’s laws – the whole of Ireland – are medieval.
            It is to this island’s eternal shame that more than 3,000 women a year are forced to travel to the UK for terminations.
            The fact that Ireland is only now beginning to have the debate that most of the rest of Europe had three decades ago is scandalous.
            But that’s religion for you.

          3. Taunton

            Understood, however my point was that once one holds a position on a polemic topic, in the eyes of many, all other positions are pigeon, or derivatives of it.

            Personally I have views that are a bit left on some topics and a bit right on others.

            Most on here dismiss the views of others as being right wing or libtard.

            Echo chambers serve no purpose as the occupants struggle comprehend how a Trump gets elected.

    2. some old queen

      The internet is increasingly becoming a place where people are being manipulated. All you have to do is look at the two big events last year(ish), Trump and Brexit. In neither case were the social myths true. Trump is not a man of the people and Briexit will not stop immigration from non EU countries.

      And then there are the geographical myths. What happens in US colleges does not affect the ordinary man or woman in Ireland in any shape or form yet these mystical SJW’s creatures are presented as controlling everything and everyone here.

      You never learn from people like yourself and some of us are quite happy to listening to opposing views because even a stopped clock is right twice a day but, if you watch the Milo Katie Hopkins love in on youtube you will see how shallow, disingenuous and downright juvenile these types are.

      1. Charger Salmons

        Brexit isn’t intended to stop immigration from non-EU countries.The purpose of Brexit is to give the British government the ability to limit the amount of immigration it wants and to choose what type of people it admits.
        In much the same way as the USA,Australia,China,Japan and many other major industrial nations.
        Brexit stopping immigration is just one of the myths and distorted lies served up by the Irish media which I hear dutifully regurgitated by its unquestioning recipients every night of the week in the pub.

          1. Charger Salmons

            In fact the only reason I’m here now is that a chap doesn’t want to be seen heading off for a sharpener this early on a weekday.

        1. some old queen

          It doesn’t matter what the purpose of it is, immigration WAS a key factor in Briexit Charger, one which was perpetuated all over social media.

          And for the record, most Irish people are not blind to other traditional media outside the country. I myself regularly watch both RT and Al Jazeera because they usually have different angles from either Ireland or Britain.

          But, if you want to throw stones then let’s start with Britain. During the troubles they were the most biased and slanted possible. They invented ‘fake news’ long before the term was coined.

          1. Charger Salmons

            You’re not the first person on here to look at the past when Brexit is really about the future.
            Immigration was a factor in the Brexit vote but not the key one.
            Almost every poll carried out has shown that sovereignty – or regaining the ability to control its own laws and regulations – is far more important to Leave voters than immigration.
            I understand that this is less of an issue to Irish people because for only a very short time in their history have they not been told what to do by another power.
            You may be happy with being lectured at by unelected EU mandarins like that clown Druncker or the jumped up bureaucrat Donald Tusk but the Brits aren’t.
            Barry Obama did more harm to the Remain campaign when he came over and wagged his finger at Blighty than Nigel Farage ever did.

          2. Brother Barnabas

            “the ability to control own laws and regulations” was the main factor?

            they’re going to feel like proper chumps so when they hear the UK has committed to regulatory alignment with the EU

          3. Andrew

            “And for the record, most Irish people are not blind to other traditional media outside the country”

            I disagree with that. Most Irish people, the ones that even bother to consume current affairs or opinion rely on RTE,The Irish Times/Indo.
            They really do.

          4. some old queen

            @ Andrew. In the main I would agree with you but people are watching Brexit, partly because it is so important and also because it’s like a soap opera. Once a topic reaches the kitchen or canteen table it is being followed and Brexit is being discussed like very few other topics since equal marriage.

            But just on the issue of no pro Brexit stories in Ireland. National media are never impartial but the good ones do try to represent national interests. So, in what possible way could Brexit be good for Ireland?

            That’s a serious question.

          5. Charger Salmons

            It is in Ireland’s paramount interest that the UK gets the best possible deal out of the Brexit negotiations because the two countries are inextricably linked.
            Experienced politicians like John Bruton writing in today’s Irish Times understand this.
            Hacks like Fintan O’ Toole, who has spent the last year indulging in lazy Brit-bashing,don’t and even if he did the outcome wouldn’t trouble his well-remunerated position.
            Ireland will pay a heavy price if it thinks obstruction and public grandstanding is the best possible diplomacy.
            It might play well in the short-term for the folks back home but Ireland’s economic viability has always been attached to the coat-tails of Britain.
            Those who think the EU are Ireland’s bezzies are misguided.

          6. Charger Salmons

            Well if it forces Ireland to not be so dependant on Britain for its economic success and instead encourages it to find new markets elsewhere that’s got to be a good thing.

            What you’re doing is complaining that Ireland is going to be affected by a democratic political decision of another country but raising not even a whimper of protest at your life being ruled at every stage by unelected officials in the EU.

            Maybe it is time to wrench yourself from Britannia’s teat after all – you’ve had a century now in which to do it.

            Good luck sucking up to your new chums in Brussels.

          7. some old queen

            I am not complaining about anything honey. I am just asking you to state why you think that the island of Ireland will be better off post Brexit?

            I’m bored now.

  5. realPolithicks

    If you haven’t listened to his podcast yet, I highly recommend it. Very interesting guests..try it.

          1. realPolithicks

            My only point was related to the podcast, but I wouldn’t expect you and the rest of your miserable pals on here here to understand that. People like you, Lord Salmons and the rest of the fellowship of the miserable only see the negative in everything. There’s a new year coming so why don’t you try hitting the refresh button on your negativity and perhaps contribute something positive on here occasionally.

          2. Charger Salmons

            That’s funny.
            I spend my days on here extolling the positive side of Brexit.
            It’s a shame you stoop low to describe people with views you don’t agree with as miserable.
            Which,of course,was exactly the point of the original post.
            Intolerance seems to be the default position of the liberal virtue-signallers.

          3. realPolithicks

            “Intolerance seems to be the default position of the liberal virtue-signallers.”

            Thank you for confirming my point.

    1. wardenblah

      and yet you thought Tony Groves was a real talent under your other name ” warden of the snort”. Why the change of heart?

  6. Strategic Communications Eunuchs

    Great article.

    “At every water cooler moment we join the dots. At every lazy newspaper Op-ed we join the dots. We forget about infighting. We forgive ourselves and others for slights and we take the fight to the barrage of bullshit that is the machinery of State.”

    Broadsheet’s New Year Resolution should be to stop publicising the following day’s newspapers.

    1. Andrew

      A resolution to stop publicising RTE’s weekly show of contempt to its patrons; in the guise of Ryan Tubridy and Ray D’Arcy. That would be appreciated. It is soul destroying to see this every week..

  7. nellyb

    First Varadkar calls us morning wood and professes his love for us.
    Then he calls (mostly tax-avoiding) employers not to pay us fair wages, because we are not productive enough (- he’d know! lol :-) )
    This is while he is affording himself a pay increase, which is drawn out of morning wood’s taxed wages, which in turn, he advocates suppression for, again – while drawing his own pay increase out of it :-) – ?
    Are we a country or a psychiatric facility?

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