Politics in a pandemic

As I said in yesterday’s blog, I’ve had a lot of thinking time lately and lots of time to observe the goings on in the world via the news media, TV, and social media. There are some disconcerting things happening in the world of media, both social and mainstream. The world is changing for sure and the way news is reported to us has definitely gone through some kind of metamorphosis over that last few years.

Now I’m not a terribly political creature, I have never been an adamant supporter of one political party over another, my vote has swung all over the place in the 43 years I’ve been allowed to vote. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of voting and I will always vote. I can’t let those suffragettes go through all they did to flippantly give up my right to cast a vote. But, I change my mind constantly on which name to put my X beside.

What has struck me though is how polarised other people appear to be. There are such extremes of opinion, particularly on social media, which of course is a great platform for keyboard warriors to vent all their frustrations. I have noticed it much more in recent times than I ever did before though and I do wonder why people feel the need to express so many nasty thoughts. Why can’t they just have an opinion without feeling they have to destroy an opposing opinion with venom, hostility and threats? What happened to good old friendly debate?

Twitter is absolutely the worst example of this, so I try to stay away from it whenever possible. I used to look in every day, but the demolition of character got so bad on there that I’ve given up and just walked away. Trolling to the absolute extreme! Facebook I still use, as I like to keep in contact with my art friends and I get to see their artwork which is nice. I have many ‘friends’ on Facebook and they fall into three camps. Many, like me, never mention politics in their feed at all and that’s great. The other two camps are of course either Labour or Conservative supporters. Having said that, I have more left-wing labour, socialist supporters in my friends list than Tories, or maybe they are just more prepared to shout about it.

I can see both sides of the argument and even when I can’t I like to think that I can at least listen to the other side without resorting to angry rhetoric, abuse and insult! What I really dislike is how personal people will get. It’s not enough to argue a political point, but they have to throw some deeply personal insult at the politician they disagree with. This is true of voters on all sides of the fence. Some friends that I really like and have a lot of time for can be quite vicious in their personal attacks on their least favourite politician.

I’ll give you some examples: the obvious ones are Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson. I’ve seen posts with all kinds of slander against Corbyn, pictures of him with terrorists, with Russians, real personality assassination. HOwever, similarly I have seen pictures of Boris as a pig, ‘jokes’ about his weight, about him dying of Covid etc.. Now, you may not like these characters, but they are doing a job. Why should their personal attributes be brought into it?

What saddens me even more is that people I’ve always considered fair and reasonable human beings are among the ones doing this! Even sadder is that most of them are socialist leaning and they are far nastier about the Tory leader than any of my ‘right’ leaning friends. They are spouting socialist values of ‘fairness to all’, ‘equality for the masses’, protection of the underdog’, yet they are spouting hateful prose against the opposition. Instead, why aren’t they coming up with valid reasons why they believe they tory way is wrong? Why don’t they formulate suggestions on how to do it better instead of jumping straight into personal insult and character assassination? Can nobody debate any more?

This trait in many of my socialist friends has had the effect of turning me away from those arguments. Many of the people doing this are well-off, comfortably living in nice big houses, driving expensive cars, in the higher tax bracket. My Mum used to call them Champagne Socialists and I now see what she meant. They are all for the rights of the poor, but isn’t it easy to do that from an ivory tower and an expense account?

In the interested of fairness, I get annoyed also by the right wing spouting about immigrants, putting Britain first and Brexit. Though while those beliefs to me are abhorrent, they way they are expressed by my friends is not nearly so vehement and upsetting as the language used by my socialist ‘pals’ .

So guys, what I now do is ‘snooze’ you for 30 days on Facebook when you start spouting this shit. It gives me a nice breather from reading it all. And don’t get me started on the people who add comments to your posts. Some of those people are completely vile!

I see this behaviour coming from people like Trump in the USA. Such wild, horrible speech, yet accepted by the mainstream. If it’s OK for him, then the rest of us can followsuit.

Don’t get me started on how what is happening in America is affecting the rest of us! That’s a blog for another day….

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