Another election. Whoopee, be still my beating heart! Bring it on, let’s be having it. Six more weeks of endless social media bickering as people who hardly know each other slag each off because they believe in the wrong shade of pink.
A bit back somebody posted quite proudly that he’d been to the Britain First facebook page, discovered how many of his facebook friends had liked the page, and unfriended them.
Out of interest I went to the page and looked to see how many of my facebook friends had liked it. I then commented on his wall that I was struck by how young they were.
He asked if I’d unfriended them. I replied that he hadn’t.
Rather huffily he asked why not. I merely replied they were real people and I knew them in real life.
I don’t think that one had occurred to him.
But it’s strange. Writers tend to get a lot of writers as facebook friends, because that’s what writers do, because it’s exposure and getting your name out there.
But other than that, most of the people who I’m linked to on facebook are people I know, and some of them I even meet occasionally. In some cases the discussions on my facebook wall are continuations of discussions that happened the previous evening. Similarly facebook posts can be commented on in real life.
So when I see a friend of mine has ‘liked’ something like Britain First I don’t see a knuckle dragging moron. I see someone who’s probably sick of being talked down to and slagged off by people who had opportunities he hasn’t had.
And now we’ve got an election. Social media will doubtless become horrible and I’ve already started blocking stuff. Not people yet, just the mindless sources they keep trying to share. Life is too short for beaming smugly at yet another toddler proudly displaying the contents of their potty.
One worry is that people are going to try and ramp up the stakes. I’ve already seen people saying that this is the last chance we’ll have to save democracy. Please, stop assuming we’re stupid.
But even more worrying is that each election or referendum since the advent of social media has been more divisive than the last. We’re engaged in a dangerous experiment with our social cohesion. I suspect our problem is we haven’t got enough grown-ups left.
Can June come quickly enough?