I think this is a thing I should blog about, because surely everyone in the UK who has a blog is blogging about it?
I’ve found the last few weeks deeply frustrating, because I try to maintain a policy of not fighting with people on the internet (specifically on Facebook), because I am not very good at arguing and I feel I would devalue my argument by trying to reduce it to “comment” length. The reason I have been frustrated can be put into four simple letters:
I did not choose to vote UKIP during this European Parliament election, but I certainly didn’t make that choice on the basis of the LITERALLY THOUSANDS of posts which turned up on my Facebook feed telling me not to. I made that choice on the basis of reading policies and making judgments, the way I genuinely feel everyone should make their voting choices. If Facebook must have a say, I’d prefer it to be my friends sharing who they ARE going to vote for, but only a small handful of my friends managed that.
Which brings me to my next point. People don’t think very hard about what they share on Facebook, they see something, have a reaction, and share that reaction. A person on my Facebook recently shared an image slamming halal slaughter (which was just a thinly veiled cry of Islamophobia). When she was questioned on her sharing of the image she fought for a while about the sanctity of “her opinion”, and then took it down. The reason for this, I have no doubt is because she realised that she
a) actually had no idea about the subject of halal slaughter and the real facts
b) had shared an image from a crazy fundamentalist organisation.
And that’s all very well, except that she didn’t know before she shared it, and she did it anyway. Which tarnishes my image of her, but more worryingly shows how many people have strong opinions based on their own sheer lack of knowledge. Social media is then not doing them any good, because when people insistently share only negative media (see my issues with UKIP articles above) then stupid people who don’t learn and just opine are only exposed to these views. Which in turn makes them into vocal extremists with no real understanding at all.
This brings me to my most controversial statement of this blog post. I don’t think these people are people who should be voting.
Now then, before I am lynched, I know that what I’m saying goes against many of my own fundamental beliefs, and I’m still working hard to resolve that on a personal level. However, I can’t deny that when Facebook binged this morning, and cheerfully reminded me to vote, I had another pang of annoyance. I feel that members of the community who don’t think for themselves are not doing us any good, and I also feel that we would have a far more sensible and mutually beneficial political system if we worked via a meritocracy, allowing the people who know best to do the thinking.
I don’t suggest this is workable, and I am a huge proponent of democracy, but today, as my friends chirpily pat themselves on the virtual back via tweets and statuses for voting, I can’t help but feel that a whole lot of them maybe shouldn’t have been allowed to.