A close friend of mine blames all of society’s ills on cars and television. If neither of these had been invented, she says, we would be much better off – our horizons limited both physically and mentally to the benefit of communities and families.
No doubt she is much wiser than I am: I would just prefer it if speed cameras had not been invented.
I would never say that, of course, because I would get a barrage of criticism from the usual suspects, who have been outnumbering me for some time. Still, as Anatole France said, if 52 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
I am in fact a right-wing, litter-throwing, woke-cancelling, dog-hating, anti-Brexit, climate-denying, cycle-wielding anarchist Liverpool supporter. I’m joking, of course. Only one or two of those tendencies is true, and it’s certainly not the Liverpool one.
The real trouble with our country nowadays is that we know too much about each other, and of course social media are to blame. I discovered today that my local community (in the broadest sense) harbours a nest of anti-Monarchist troublemakers who favour disrupting Jubilee street parties. I find this obnoxious (or do I?) but without social media I wouldn’t know who they were.
Until I made use of Facebook – which despite objections from people who know what they’re talking about, I find useful for keeping in contact with ex-colleagues – I didn’t know how many people I liked and respected harboured political views that I found not only unexpected but preposterous. Happily I have a measure of self-restraint, and so they don’t know they hate me.
Twitter is another matter. It’s so easy to pop in the quick barbed comment, usually about road works, but so difficult to avoid annoying someone or other. In fact I think some people go on Twitter specifically to be annoyed.
In short, however much we disagree with each other, it’s best not to put it in writing – at least where someone might read it. A group of near neighbours of ours stand outside on a Friday night (weather permitting, and you know what they say about weather forecasters) and we have a drink. We get on very well, despite not having by any means the same political views. No-one gets annoyed, throws punches or walks out (or in). And you know why? Because we don’t write it down.
When I was young, pretty much everyone got on. For the same reason. Now we all hate each other. Or do we?