At the end of my anti-disinformation campaign, I realized that my work would not be complete if I didn’t also focus on this issue. How to approach it in a way that is informative, but not patronizing, though? If only there was a project led by older people who care about the society we live in and who’d volunteer to take up this task... Wait a minute - we have our Seniors on Board in the Pirate Party! They can help communicate this issue to their peers the way they see it.
Despite that, the most common criticism we got was exactly what we tried to avoid at any cost: people said we were trying to make the elderly look incompetent and tell them what to read, what to believe, or even who to vote for. I was quite saddened by that because I had been trying to do the exact opposite. That is not how I see disinformation at all: it is not a question of how clever or stupid or naive or wise anyone is. It is a complex phenomenon interlinked with the generational gap in the information age.
I also see this as feedback, though, showing how much disinformers have tried to exploit the fact that older people were taught to source their information in different ways than the generations of their children or grandchildren. There is no wonder that the most critical voices were disinformers like Mr. Žantovský: I am sure the group of our brave seniors stepped on their toes by trying to free their friends from the throes of this manipulation.
The goal of our campaign was to present disinformation and the way it speaks to all generations without exception. To tell the truth, we would show more contempt to the elderly by leaving them out of our efforts. I also noticed that some disinformers compared our campaign to the infamous election video “Přemluv bábu” (Persuade Granny). We, too, are disgusted by such attempts to manipulate the elderly. We definitely do not think we can patronize people who have been through much more and have immense life experience. We are interested in their own stories, directly from the source. That gave rise to another motto that you can hear in our videos.
That is why we decided to let the elderly themselves speak directly - so we didn’t usurp their voices the way the aforementioned campaign had. We called the campaign “Za sebe” (For Yourself) because nobody is speaking for the elderly in our campaign. It is a platform that lets them speak for themselves.
Hana, Ivana, and Jana, as well as the gentlemen Antonín and Jiří had a lot to say; in the end it was quite hard to pick the best for our videos. We asked questions and listened to them. One of the things we wanted to know was how to address their peers in a way that would not insult anybody. “I hate it when someone calls us grandma and grandpa when we're not their grandmothers or grandfathers We’re simply the elderly, because I’m a bit older than others,” said Mr. Antonín while we were shooting. That sounded fair.
They told us, for example, how they used to send on email chains themselves and how it influenced their worldviews or their friendships. They described different motivations for participating in email chains: one lady described, for instance, that her friend keeps sending conspiracy emails to her and she passes them on, because she doesn’t want to lose his friendship. “But then I realized that meant I was actually letting somebody else speak and think for me,” she told me. That is how one of the campaign's mottos was born. That was our goal: no moralizing, just the thoughts and words of real people intended for their real friends, with respect and dignity.