The closest thing to love is hate, apparently. I think this was one of those spurious generalisations made by some pinko-Liberal. Had the saying not existed before the Internet I'd have guessed it was the work of those secret meme minions who pump out everything from cute kittens to rallying war cries to social injustice campaigns (which some people think are really the work of Tory spin doctors to try and discredit the discreditors - how's that for an eat-itself-conspiracy-theory?).
During the General Election, I fell out with two important people in my life. The first was my brother, who got fed up with me accusing him and his (probably not) well meaning friends of being Nazis and him doing what I accuse most people of doing which is believing the press. The problem is, for me, that I don't see a caring, benevolent Tory party, I see people in brown shirts, crushing the oppressed under their jackboot heels and nothing they have done since the election has changed my mind - they have a war on poverty; they want to eradicate it and the best way to do that is get rid of the majority of people caught in poverty by unnatural wastage. Tories preach to us how much they care and people buy it even if there is bugger all evidence to back it up. The tax credit bill certainly looks like Dave and co helping the poorest in society, donchathink?
But I'm old and wise enough to realise that people don't want actual facts, they just want what seems or feels right to them and their little England idyll. We became insular after (and because of) Thatcher and as long as we are all right, then...
The second friend I fell out with was considerably less expected. A good friend and fellow left winger and I fell out over language used towards his god-daughter, who had earlier on Facebook picked on Ed Miliband while simultaneously bigging up Nigel Farage. She came in for some stick, not least by me. Then it turned out she was a silly 16-year-old who couldn't vote and was just 'getting involved' in the debate. I was then ordered to apologise to her (after receiving a really uncalled for level of abuse from said child's family and friends) and I refused - end of friendship and to be honest with you if a near 20 year relationship can be blown to smithereens that quickly then there probably wasn't a solid foundation in the first place. The thing was, looking back on it, I just called her 'silly' and yet over the last few weeks I've seen abuse of a kind I've struggled to believe could come from the brain of a human being.
If it isn't the most callous and uncaring comments by 'Brits' (and I use that term loosely) about the refugee crisis, it has been the widespread animosity generated by Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader - culminating yesterday in his decision not to sing the National Anthem. Forget the social media sites that are fit to burst with vile commentary by fascists with nothing better to do; the press had a field day. It is far more important that our right wing controlled media tell you about the fact Jeremy didn't sing than bother to spend any time on the number of people who have died as a result of benefits 'sanctions' or the fact the Tories are abolishing tax credits and for the poorest people the shortfall will take up to 2 years to sort.
No, starving Brits is not important when we can berate a 66-year-old man for looking dishevelled or not singing to the establishment's tune or not appointing any women to the top 3 jobs in his shadow cabinet, or blah blah blah blah blah - which, of course, makes him evil. The right wing press never bothered to tell you that Corbyn tends to be nice and respectful to most everyone (apart from pernicious right wing pit bulls such as Laura Kuensberg), especially when he's trying to sort some shit some other politician has created. No, the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Cameron and co isn't even worth talking about, so therefore it doesn't exist and anyone complaining about it is either a leftie or deserves to be in the mess they're in. That's how fair our society is because of our press.
Corbyn will crucified by the media because of his refusal to play their games. It is one of those areas where his inexperience and simmering petulance towards 'the establishment' has to be addressed. He cannot rely on face-to-face meetings and social media (which is a microcosm of belief anyhow), yet he knows that even a moderate paper like The Guardian is going to be critical of every thing he does. In many ways it's a totally thankless position he's been put in - and all for sticking to his principles.
But, you know, I kind of think he should be congratulated for the stance he's taking and for rising above all the abuse directed at him. The problem is - this is England 2015, not 1985 - all forms of media is essential, even the old fashioned (right wing controlled) kind.
Corbyn would be well-advised to offer Owen Jones a job within his communications team. Jones is the left-wing young columnist and writer who has helped galvanise interest in politics amongst the young and disenfranchised again and he was the real inspiration for this blog...
Jeremy Corbyn doesn't believe in confrontational politics and was seen berating his own supporters for their overzealous campaigning at times (this, of course, was barely mentioned when stories of Corbyn's internet-pit-bulls were reaching the Sun) and I can understand why. If you look at comments sections of papers, blogs, articles, websites or just the social media, you will see the world in miniature - the left, the right, the middle and the crazy (and I'm not talking UKIP here). The crazy tend to be from any political party, although the more extreme the views tends to be from the most extreme people and the internet attracts crazies like flies to shit.
Owen Jones - left wing, gay and outspoken - comes in for his fair share of abuse and as he said today that you used to be able to go months or even years without being abused by a complete stranger and now it's almost an hourly event, especially if you sit on either side of the political fence. Jones rises above it because oddly enough that's the best policy. If, like me, you decide to engage the loonies you discover that many of them are considerably more fucked up than you could imagine. The internet of 2015 means that even if you are proved wrong/right that isn't the end of it. people either choose not to accept the proof in front of them and continue with their abuse, or they just carry on with their abuse, because they lost and we don't have good losers any longer (do we, Labour?).
I witnessed a Facebook 'conversation' between my friend Jeff Chahal (the owner of a local business and a believer in a fairer society for all) and the friend of one of his friends whose understanding of the 'migrant' crisis and the diversity in the world was sorely missing. Jeff remained remarkably calm in the face of what started out as just general ignorance and lack of knowledge, but soon turned to some of the basest and unpleasant insults about Jeff's heritage, personal beliefs and vile presumptions I've ever seen and all because Jeff stayed calm and presented facts rather than invective. By the end of the 'conversation' anyone witnessing it would have been justifiably angry - there were even calls for Jeff to report the guy to the Hate Crimes unit, but he's a fair man and he believed that would just cause more trouble. Personally, the idiot he engaged with will never see the error of his ways so you punish him continuously until he at least shuts the fuck up.
I have mellowed in recent months. I once created an alter-ego for The Guardian website, but tend to use my own name and profile now because, as I've always said, if you want to insult or argue with someone on the net at least have the conviction of being a real person when you do it (I have never used Bill Wall for anything other than liking things I don't want in my own personal Facebook news feed). My wife has said since the late 1990s that the internet in any way other than for information and facts is not for her. She has no interest in social media; she does not want to read the (largely wrong or ignorant) rantings of complete strangers (like me) or even personal friends. The internet should be a non-confrontational tool of knowledge and just writing or thinking that makes me the most naive person who ever breathed. Human nature is confrontational - we think having wars is the way to solve most things. We tend to forget that, at this moment in time, however technological we have become, we're still essentially animals and a pretty aggressive species at that.
Earlier in the year I wrote a piece about musician Steven Wilson, which covered similar ground to this and was about emotional responses and personal 'ownership' where actually none exists. Some of us have become so insular we're no longer really aware that there's an entire world out there with 7billion+ of souls. The reason is as stupid as, "I bought his records, I helped him become a millionaire, he owes it to ME!" and that is essentially the same attitude with different words expressed by the users and abusers on social media. It's my belief, how dare you not agree with it!
And I'm as guilty as everyone else and will be again in the future because it doesn't matter how clever you think you are - you're an animal.