The WorldWideWeb and social media are arguably the greatest technological breakthrough since television – and what have we used it for? Splitting into tribes like apes armed with sticks.
In days gone by, people felt unique and, to an extent, isolated. People who grew up in small towns moved as soon as they could, to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Manchester. People growing up in Glasgow, Liverpool or Dundee moved to London. I’ve lost count of the people I knew who flitted south “where there’s more people like me”. Musicians, artists, LGBTQ people. They all fled South, leaving me with those too old to go, and those still too young yet.
Nowadays, your community – where they ‘get’ you – is a couple of taps away in your phone. Everybody has a welcoming community, and all it took was lowering our collective standards a little.
And there’s always trolls. Those mouths on independence chats who toss in a bit of abuse about the Scottish government and leave. Those of us who leave pro-indy arguments on the comments section of a BBC story about Nicola Sturgeon killing someone’s cattle. Any cult needs external enemies. It creates cohesiveness within the group, a sense of belonging. Just ask the Reverend Jim Jones or L Ron Hubbard.
I was a member of Informed Consent back-in-the-day. A community of like-minded perverts from the UK BDSM scene. I remember, shortly before the 2010 general election, several members of ‘my’ community, exhorting all around them to vote Conservative – to get rid of the communist, Gordon Brown. These are my clan – the creeps and weirdos – and yet, for some reason, they saw Shrek the way the right see Corbyn or Sturgeon today.
So there I was, in a community of like-minded souls, where people spouted the most outrageous guff. To the rational mind, sharing an opinion with someone does not make you party to any other shite they may choose to believe. Presumably the end result of each of us living in our own corporate/personalised echo chambers will be everybody back to the same 20th century isolation. Believing in Scottish independence AND astrology will make you an enemy of both armies.
Mibby my grandkids will understand that it’s the voices that disagree with us that we should be listening to. And disagreeing with.