I used to be silent when people shared ‘Britain First’ etc posts; we all want a quiet life and it is hard to put your head above the parapet. If you don’t believe me, watch your ‘likes’ on Facebook go from a good double figures for a picture of your cat wearing a trilby (and I don’t have a cat) to the digital equivalent of tumbleweed when you share an anti racist post. Most people are just scared.
In recent months I’ve stopped shrugging my shoulders and bemoaning the badness and started posting replies (the one post that really gets my ghost is the one that goes something like ‘Ex servicemen get £26 per month, old people less than that, whilst a family of immigrants get £80k a year, a yacht and a new house’…but I digress) ; particularly to those people who are so stupid/unwitting as to repost things that fuel hate. I hope those replies are graceful and irenic, but I’m not sure; I have little tolerance for the ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ kind of post.
Alongside that, I’ve been trying to keep following people on Twitter with whom I would not necessarily agree with; I’m getting tired of virtue signalling and living in a silo- social media seems to encourage this. My urge to ‘flame’ at targets grows. however. It happened last week: a photoshopped picture of a woman in a hijab and some asinine comment and I was off.
I thought no more about it until the person got back to me and he wasn’t complementary. I was just about to repost something equally vitriolic when I paused: I’d never met this person before and I didn’t know what they were like. I posted a more measured reply and a hope that the person had a nice day. He posted back that he hoped I didn’t so I posted again saying that was a genuine wish, posted something ‘fly’ about his football team and hoped he had a lovely evening.
A dialogue of sorts began; he opened up a bit more and a human story began to emerge about why he posted what he did (which I still disagree with). I think I learned the following:-
-Virtue signalling in your own silo is a waste of energy; it persuades no one of anything and largely confirms your own prejudices.
-Calling someone a ‘racist’ does not initiate a dialogue and stops you seeing the other as a human being (don’t call me a ‘snowflake’ a ‘Remainer’ etc etc: I am so much more and it just annoys): it mostly just makes you feel better.
-Sharing posts that just demonise or stereotype your opponents does little to move anyone forward. I struggle with this (Particularly with Boris Johnson, Jeremy Hunt etc), but I’ve tried to stop sharing posts which do this.
-Life is too short: disagree with the issues by all means, but your opponent will live, love, struggle, laugh and eventually die- just like you.
In short, just being angry or disrespectful about your opponents makes your feed monotonous and joyless: never forget that the sun still shines, nature is still glorious and there are plenty of good things as well.