Before you continue, I should warn you that this blog is nothing more than a moan. Not a sexy one either, or a nicely spooky one that comes from your cupboard when no one’s in and means you go to sleep later than you planned. No, no, this is a bog standard argh-something-else-that-drives-me-up-the-wall-more-than-Spider-Man’s-car-which-in-itself-annoyed-me-as-it-was-created-solely-for-merchandise-purposes moan. The list of things that irks me grows at a constant daily rate at the moment and I’m certain that it’s a combination of social media, age and well, things being shit. Not for me in particular, but as I’ll never achieve the heights of superhero vigilantism, I am happy to excel at armchair activism. Besides, it’s great for comedy. Supposedly.
So, here’s today’s prime gripe: People on social media responding to comments with ‘typical right winger’ or ‘typical leftie.’ It’s been an occurrence for some time now that the easy way to avoid continuing what could be a civil political argument is merely to demean the other by presuming that their behaviour is exactly what someone of that political persuasion would do. That they assume your entire personality is predictable because of one 140 character tweet or sole opinion. Now I know this sort of thing is done to get a knee-jerk response, but there is a bit of me that can’t help but dwell if people are just assuming that all right wing or all left wing people are the same.
The #WorkingClassTories hashtag was trending on Twitter today. Now why anyone felt the need to start a hashtag stating their class and political position was beyond me. It was sunny outside, there must be other things to do. Either way, as I wasn’t doing anything else or in the sunshine, clicking on it revealed a lot of slurs against those who had started the hashtag, complaining that they were destroying themselves and betraying their class. Personally I make it no secret that I think anyone that wasn’t upper class that voted Conservative was not only shooting themselves in the foot but a number of people in poverty and several foxes. This sort of comment usually results in someone telling me that the Labour party that I worship/love/lick or another adjective are just as bad. Followed by me telling them I don’t like Labour either and then some confusion as everything they’ve ever known comes crumbling down. But the fact is, you’ll never change someone’s beliefs by arguing with them on Twitter, by being patronising or telling them they’re wrong without explanation. You can’t just assume they are a certain way because a little egg picture has typed a certain thing.
Everyone has different reasons for liking or disliking various parties. They’ve read things or experienced things or met people that have wronged or helped them and so their choice of party reflects that. The more you meet people, the more you realise there isn’t a ‘typical’ anybody. There’s a large amount of awful people who scale the spectrum from left to right wing, and a ton of bloody lovely people who, again, can be all over the right and left wing like an over eager footballer. I’ve met people who I’d happily have a beer with but wouldn’t agree on their world views with all, and others who I can’t stand but have similar ideals. And vice versa. But if you don’t hear both sides of an argument how can you work out who’s correct? It’s hugely easy to say that left wingers are judgemental or right wingers don’t care about anyone, but most people I know have left and right wing thoughts about different things. So no one’s ‘typical’.
It feels a bit like social media has reduced us to quick judgements and base disagreements. I remember when it first started with MSN messenger and MySpace and the like (I tell children this and they think it is the stuff of myth) and it just seemed so exciting to be talking to someone from across the world. It seemed as though boundaries were being broken and the world was becoming a smaller place. Yet years down the line it seems to be more and more somewhere people go to avoid broadening their horizons at all, apart from with cat pictures. I read Jon Ronson’s new book ‘So You’ve Publicly Shamed’** this week and it felt like a vivid moment of clarity when you realise we’re all trapping ourselves in these little online bubbles of judgment. Don’t like what someone says? Patronise and block them. Mute them*. Report them. Alert everyone else to their misdemeanour. Agreeing to disagree has gone. Weighing up an argument is no longer a thing. We are tribal and me, you, they are typical bloody humans who think in typical bloody ways.
I’ve started to wonder if prejudice is inherent. The need to feel better than someone else, to have conflict and territory and be competitive about things. I feel fairly certain that I’m all for equal opportunities but then I’ll see someone I think is dressed like a twat and say out loud ‘Oh for fuck’s sake’ or someone who does believe in global warming and hope they could be stranded on a floating iceberg. Or someone walks behind me with their hood up as I’m walking home at night and I feel worried, or someone has an annoying high pitched voice and I just wish they’d fall in a well. I’m prejudiced about an awful lot of things, sometimes stupidly petty. But if it is inherent, which I hope it’s not, there must be a way of using it sensibly, and just against, say, those who don’t want to protect the planet. Or at least, people dressed like twats. Even then years of travelling, meeting people, dealing with audiences and generally being alive has taught me that I can’t really define anyone I’ve ever met with one quality. They’re all usually fucking weird in one way or another with some things I like about them and more that I don’t. Which is why I don’t go outside anymore.
I’m bored of generalising everyone. And I’m bored of all of you doing it too. Ahem. I just fail to be amazed at how in 2015 we can be using wireless connections to surf the internet on a piece of glass in our pockets, yet still haven’t realised that all humans are, well, human. And if you don’t believe in equality, then you’re definitely a lesser person than the rest of us. Ahem again. I’m sure you’ll disagree with some of this blog, but you would wouldn’t you? Typical bloody reader.
Phew, that’s better. Rant over. I’ve got a holiday planned for September and I have this nice notion that I’ll come back from that all full of joy for the world. More likely I’ll realise nothing has fucking changed while I’ve been away and feel worse. Ho hum.
* I should add, blocking and muting are totally fine options if someone is just being vile. Or doesn’t RT your jokes.
** The book is excellent. If you’ve ever even vaguely looked at social media, or felt shame ever, you should have a read.
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