BREXIT: STEP AWAY FROM THE HIGH HORSE
I’ve been very lucky. I’ve grown up in a world where I’ve not really wanted for anything, I’ve had a decent education, and not been directly negatively impacted severely by anything on the political landscape.
The circles I move in are largely educated and lower-middle & middle class, people who are comfortable, left-leaning, and most of all just good people. And my Facebook community is an extension of this.
Most of us at one time or another are guilty of posting things on Facebook for vanity’s sake, and for validation, be it, selfies, rants or a piece from our collection of whatever (*looks guiltily at records*). And the way we operate in tribes, we usually have a community of “friends” who grant us this validation. This also boils down to political lean, which is more or less a two-horse POV.
Brexit discussion has caused a LOT of people on my Facebook newsfeed to post their perfectly valid opinions, which then are agreed upon by their social circle. Nothing wrong with this, but in a lot of cases this isn’t going to provoke debate; rather it’s going to become a circle jerk of back patting and nods of sage agreement.
Then “we” lost.
Now Facebook is full of people bemoaning the result, collaborating in mass disbelief — “how did this happen? My Facebook feed is full of Remainers?!”
Your Facebook feed does not mirror our society.
All this time that armchair activists have been pushing their message in their Facebook circles, all they’ve been doing is preaching to the converted. If they haven’t been discussing this with pro-leavers, then they’ve not contributed to “the fight”. For every ten Remainers with a friend list full of Remainers, there’s going to be some amount of Leavers with a friend list of leavers (real recognise real, yeah?). Not to mention the amount of people who don’t give a shit about social media at all.
Also I’m seeing Leave voters being labelled as “stupid”, “gutless” whatever. These people often have lived through different situations than myself and others I’ve know. They’ve quite possibly seen things in a way that we haven’t, away that scaremongers can use immigration to manipulate them into their vote. They may not have a background or a life which enables them to see the bigger picture. They have seen things you or I haven’t. Walk a mile in a man’s shoes.
What we can learn from this
If we really want to try and instigate change and provoke discussion (disclaimer: I’m in no way politically informed or active), then we need to break out of our little Facebook bubbles, and interact with people with different beliefs, and be ready to risk being drawn into futile discussions, or even be ready for people to be more informed and able to argue the case for their decision.
However large the platform, playing at activism on Facebook isn’t going to change the world. More people might shout, but that doesn’t mean more will listen.
And remember, everyone made their decision based on their access to information, their ability to use this information, and most importantly, the life they’ve lived. Try to respect this.