Politics, Social Media and Me: A Complicated Relationship

This is easily the most contentious piece I’ve ever written for this blog, and was initially just a way for me to elucidate my thoughts on this tricky issue for my own sake. On reading it back, I got the sense that it belonged here; having talked about how important it can be to share one’s views (mainly in the third paragraph), it felt like I should do exactly that by posting this. I’m well aware that some of my readers may disagree with things I’ve said here, and that’s fair – I will try to love you all just the same.

Please note that some names have been changed for this post – not all of them, though.

In just a few hours’ time, my country (or those therein who are old enough, anyway) will be heading to the polls to give their say on who should determine how things are done. Accordingly, my Facebook feed is full of people I know weighing in on these things. Not a day goes by when I don’t see at least a few of these posts, usually invariably featuring one party being praised/decried in either a passive-aggressive or a for-real-aggressive tone. And to make matters more tedious, most of these people seem to be of the same opinion on all this.

I get it, guys. X party is morally bankrupt, as has always been the case, and anyone with a shred of decency will vote for Y party instead. As a matter of fact, I actually tend to agree with you more than you probably think. My own views are, it seems to me, quite similar to yours in several respects. The difference is, I don’t get high by posting them to social media for all the world to see.

I can see the appeal in this for some people, I really can. If you have any deeply-held views, not just those concerning politics, then you’d logically want to share them with others so that they might come to see your point of view. If people are adamant that voting in the Goonies is a bad idea, then it makes sense that they would say so in public places such as these, as an advertisement of sorts. People tend to take notice of things if they see that others around them are passionate about them, and that’s as true of politics as it is of anything else – perhaps even more so.

However, the reason why all this worries me (the excellent points made in this article notwithstanding) is because it can very easily turn into a kind of pseudo-discussion in which everyone who votes a certain way is demonised. Any meaningful discourse is chucked out of the window and turned into a simple shouting match. I’m not saying that everyone who partakes in political discussion does this necessarily, but it’s something I don’t want any real part in, especially if people I know and love are involved. I don’t know exactly what my parents’ political views are like, but even if we happen not to see eye to eye on these things, I won’t allow that to get between us. Moreover, I can’t. I’m aware that they both voted differently to me in the European Union referendum last year, but I didn’t take that to mean I had to love them any less.

And not only all that, but something unnerves me about seeing everyone rallying around one candidate and treating him/her like the best thing since prematurely divided Focaccia. I can understand if there literally are only two people to choose from (and in our case, I suppose there are – the Liberal Democrats aren’t anywhere near as prominent as their two main rivals), but it still freaks me out considerably. At least with the American election last year, many people seemed to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton wasn’t perfect, so there would still be issues if she were elected POTUS. With the way I’ve heard some people talking about Jeremy Corbyn, you’d think he really was the Second Coming of Christ. Again, not everyone around me has taken this line of thought, but it seems like a fairly popular one from what I can see.

I guess the bottom line with all of this is that we have to be careful not to put ideas and agendas before people (ideally, we would keep the two in tension somehow). I see a lot of people talking about how the Conservative party exists to oppress the downtrodden, and how no one with anything resembling a heart will vote for them. Well, be that as it may (pun fully intended), I don’t see why that should stop us from looking out for those whose views differ from our own. If you get a thrill out of sharing your political views on Facebook or whatever social media platform is ‘in’ right now, then far be it from me to stop you. I just fear that if I were to join in, it might cause more division than unity.


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