On bots and phobes

I fail to remember such a social awareness of elections. I was recently asked whose bot I am, and they assigned me a phobia to a dozen political people.

The time of extremes when you can’t just have your point of view, your beliefs, your preferences when you must be either someone else’s bot and automatically someone’s phobe.

Here it is, you liked Petro Poroshenko’s post – a porokhobot. You laughed at Vikul’s billboard – a vikulophobe. The next day, you left an angry emoji for Poroshenko – you are written off from porokhobots and automatically enrolled in the register of yulebots, and nobody will remember that two days ago you left a dozen of angry comments on Tymoshenko’s page.

The terrible times of extremes. I even made myself dive in the dictionaries to figure out this social phenomenon and the meanings of these neologisms. So the dictionaries give such explanation of the word ‘bot’: this is a special program that performs both automated and/or scheduled operations through the same interface as a normal user. Usually, bots are designed to perform work, monotonous and repetitive, with the highest possible speed (apparently, higher than a human’s capabilities). Then I bounced this off the specialists, and it was confirmed that the bot in the classical sense is not a human. That is if you created a dozen of bots who will monotonously like your poetical experiments and comment them somehow of the same type: “Poet Kuzmenko, well done”, “Exquisite”, “So sweet” and so on – these will be the bots. If under your poetical experiments a living human who loves kittens, cooks borshch on Saturday, sings in the bathroom, goes to work, sometimes jumps into puddles, laughs, changes the hair color, watches TV series in the evenings will come… So if such a human will come and under your poetical experiment will write an exciting comment, it will be a person with their original, sometimes strange but their own tastes, not a bot. We began rather fair talks about bots in 2014 when Olhinska factory launched an army of such automated digital bots that commented the same way and sometimes even inappropriately. They created a so-called informational background, informational noise. Then we fished out these bots with the whole network, proved that they are not real people but bots and laughed at them. And suddenly, in a few years, living people of the same type who can’t even hit the right note when taking a shower were enrolled in bots.

If we continue with “phobes”, there is also an interesting story and the puzzle of notions. I recollect that the fad to enroll in phobes appeared in 2014 and came directly from Russia. It was trendy back then to enroll everyone who was critical about Russian politics in the Russophobes. There is a joke from that time: “what a Ukrainian you might be if you haven’t been a Russophobe”. There is no notion ‘phobe’ in the dictionaries but there is surely a derivative word – ‘phobia’ which is explained as a painful fear, irrational, intense and persistent. Did we had such sentiments towards Russian and the Russians in 14? No, we had a different kind of fear but we weren’t afraid of those who called us Russophobes. We were outraged, we criticized, bore a grudge, despised and mocked but there wasn’t any irrational fear. So why do we become phobes in our informational field when we criticize someone reasonably and restraintly?

Maybe, the reason is that a person standing in front of us with a different point of view can’t be identified as the same type, so we have to depersonalize them. To grab away their right to a human’s view and emotion, to typify their sentiments and perceptions. And that’s all, in front of you, there is no a person who for one reason or another supports one of the candidates, but a digital kind of garbage – a bot. What to talk to him about. In front of you, there is not a person who criticize one of the candidates but a phobe with his/her irrational fears. Why listen to him if he is just a phobe.

That is why this year elections seem to be the confrontation of phobes and bots. And it is funny that people of the same interests and beliefs also arise in this confrontation. It is funny and sad because the common views no longer united.

P.S. Of course, modern politicians often use bots in promoting their messages. They are rather easy to track through the same type accounts, empty pages or there will be only a few reposts without comments, and the commentaries which all look alike. But a living being who writes a supporting commentary under the name of one of the candidates can be, in your humble opinion, a fool, a bastard, a villain, or whoever, but not a bot.


Your porokhobot and yulephobe, Tatusya Bo

Be polite and refrain from generalization!

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