A day in the life of the Slovak internet

Our capacity for indignation – or compassion – seems exhausted just when we need it most.

(Source: AP/TASR)

Earlier this month, my colleague Peter Dlhopolec used part of his weekly newsletter to summarise a recent controversy that had erupted on the Slovak internet.

I refer you to his fine description, but suffice it to say that two semi-prominent figures – one a newspaper columnist, the other an online satirist – unwisely trash-talking to each other online, said some disparaging things about a blandly inoffensive singer.

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Their comments were noticed – rather oddly, as they were made on Twitter, which is not really a thing in Slovakia – and reported by an online news website, Postoj, that styles itself a ‘conservative daily’.

A whole lot of other public figures then felt moved to share their opinions online and, in what is now customary internet style, everyone else promptly piled on. Led by Postoj, whose conservatism seems designed mainly to appeal to aggrieved Christians, the mob’s outrage focused on the digs the original pair had taken at the singer’s well-publicised faith.

Before you could say ‘Don’t feed the trolls!’ the editor-in-chief of the Sme daily (which employs one of the offending commentators, and shares an owner with this newspaper) was being asked to apologise by a former prime minister, and the national broadcaster had chosen to insert itself into the “debate”.

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