That vibration you might have felt was the collective shudder of a dozen Scottish Government communication officers as they read the social media feed of one of their junior ministers and despaired.

It's impossible to cast an eye over Twitter/X and not see folk - folk who should know better - engaging in the most unedifying spats. Ministers, MSPs, baronesses from the House of Lords.

Often it's playground-level sparring and pretty pathetic, yet typed out and posted by people with the responsibility of representing our democratic institutions. And our non-democratic institutions, but we'll come back to that.

Scotland is, yet again, on the downward slide into another culture war rammy. We are, again, about to pick apart and parse legislation that pertains to something sensitive, involving faith-based positions, family life, science and identity.

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It is rich and fertile ground for poor quality social media spats that leave everyone involved lesser than they were when they started. But such is life and we'll have to just endure it.

Might our politicians take some pause, however?

Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, was on X on Sunday evening trying to explain some of the finer points of the new proposed Bill to ban conversion therapy.

You would think that any communication from a Scottish Government minister on a social media channel would provide clarity, accuracy and be invested in furthering debate and discussion.

Ms Roddick was responding to a column by Mandy Rhodes, the editor of Holyrood Daily magazine, which takes a look at the conversion therapy bill.

In it, Ms Rhodes rightly refers to the fact that it is important to have clear definitions of important terms.

Whether you are for or against conversion therapy, whether you believe the Bill is a dreadful overreach into family life or a vital step in protecting people vulnerable to appalling practices, you still have to be able to define your terms.

It's not bigotry to ask for a clear definition of "man" or "woman" or "gender" - it's a fundamental of drafting competent legislation that operates in practical terms.

This is legislation that creates new criminal sanctions, it's not some jape.

As others have pointed out, parenting often involves a deal of opposition and coercion with a view to keeping young people safe, to protect and to guide them.

The new law will have to spell out what's what - too wide a definition will leave too many people at risk of prosecution; too narrow a definition and the legislation becomes pointless.

Definitions are vital. They are also difficult to spell out on social media, where word counts are limited and people who oppose your views are poised and ready to pick you apart.

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This is a novice Scottish Government minister explaining to a public audience the fundamentals of new law. That's the sort of thing on which you'd want to ensure the messaging is exactly right and not crammed into a limited number of characters late on a Sunday night.

Ms Roddick, however, responded on social media to say that: "The proposed legislation does not determine how people experience gender identity or what that means.

"It simply says people deserve to be protected from harm. You don't have to understand someone's gender in order not to genuinely harm them in an attempt to change it."

The responses were not kind. What does the minister mean, that we don't have to understand the concept of gender in order within the context of new legislation pertaining to the issue of gender?

I suspect Ms Roddick meant something else here. I suspect she meant that it is not necessary to understand an individual's gender expression, rather than the concept of gender identity.

But that wasn't clear to others, particularly those who are heavily invested in and extremely knowledgeable on the topic. It is very, very easy to find yourself down a spiral of confusion when posts are so open to interpretation.

We then went off on a terrible tangent as the MSP fell into the trap of talking about make up and clothing in relation to gender identity. "As for makeup," Ms Roddick wrote, "I know others try to gatekeep womanhood so assume others do the same, but when I say I express my femininity using makeup, I'm not saying all women do/should, or everyone who uses makeup is a woman. I am saying I *personally* use it to express myself."

I've never really thought about why I wear make up but it's certainly not to "express my femininity". I just don't have much in the way of eyebrows unless I draw them on.

I wear dresses because I find choosing clothing deeply tedious and a dress means you only have to pick one item, rather than a matching pair. You can imagine the howling responses to Ms Roddick's post.

At the same time, the disgraced Conservative peer Michelle Mone was going hammer and tongs on X over new revelations from the tax-lawyer-turned-investigative-journalist Dan Neidle (he who brought down Nadhim Zahawi over his tax affairs).

Perhaps it's AI generated or perhaps she engaged the services of a cartoonist, but Ms Mone has been making hay by using a caricature image of Mr Neidle in a series of posts calling him a hypocrite for having once worked for the “magic circle” law firm Clifford Chance.

Does Ms Mone really want to start throwing stones about people's previous career decisions? But here we have someone - albeit unelected - appointed to a privileged public position who is engaging in unseemly social media spats.

Isn't there some code of conduct for political figures to follow? I've highlighted these two because they are the most recent examples but you can scroll back not very far to find ample instances of problematic use of social media.

Politicians should be using social media as a way of engaging constituents and voters and as a way of disseminating information. A second pair of eyes might be a good idea too, and an end to squabbling with those one disagrees with.

While gossips might enjoy the sight as scuttlebutt, these exchanges lower the tone of debate and bring politics down with it. We're already at a fantastically low ebb - best not make a bad situation worse.