So where does all that leave us, in the great scheme of things? At the moment it appears as though we’re on the cusp of a major change in our political, economic and social life, and are seeing communal norms and understandings which people of my generation thought would last forever on the verge of being overturned. However, that may not be the case. Change is definitely coming, but the form it will take is moot. Which brings me to the question, how do I end this series of endless posts in a way which I find satisfying, as events gallop on apace far beyond my ability to keep up with them?
Well, firstly, I’d like to suggest that we all take care around the myths I’ve been talking about. It’s easy on the left to think that employing approaches such as Will of the People, Enemy of the People and Sore Loser are for others; we would not ourselves employ them. Unfortunately, we do; most of our debates on social media are based around these assumptions. “Anyone who speaks against me and my views and the views of my right-thinking friends is WRONG and I must DEFEAT THEM and make them SHUT UP!!” is the underlying assumption of much debate on social media around any contentious issue. This tends to lead to polarisation, as indicated by this excellent article (thank you, Hilary Jennings 😊).
In this context, arguing and posting “evidence” isn’t really helpful; again, see this interesting article on why “alternative facts” may be becoming more prevalent (thank you, Andy Golborne 😊). A better approach seems to be to make a space for the other person to be heard, and to ask questions, not in a spirit of wanting to “catch them out” so you can “win”, or even in an attempt to understand their views, but in an attempt to find common ground on which you can either move the debate forward constructively or else agree amicably to differ. It might seem impossible and the “burning platform” sense of urgency which social media encourages makes us believe that we MUST STOP THIS PERSON, RIGHT NOW, but we all have far far more in common than divides us, however opposed our views might be, and perhaps the secret is to search for that.