Words That Are Not Accepted On Facebook

This week, Helen Walne – a columnist far better than I – had something perceptive to say about social media (she always has perceptive things to say).

She says, memorably, that “social media has become a ’70s potluck dinner where people nibble politely on terrible meatballs, swop niceties about one another’s kak kaftans and then drive home bitching about the terrible meatballs and the kak kaftans… ”

The Facebook icon. Credit: Associated Press

Democracy, she notes, has freedom of expression as a key tenet. “Yet, here we are, stuffing our faces with fear, feeding an ever-shallower status quo where social correctness kills the very diversity it pretends to promote.”

I know what she means. In real life, there are often occasions where I don’t say what I’m thinking. But those occasions turn into an almost perpetual silence on social media. I’m left with commenting only on the safest of topics, and posting pictures of my cats.

The irony of this is that the friends I have on Facebook are almost all of unimpeachable middle-class liberal and left- wing stock., defenders to a person of the value of free speech and diversity. Yet it seems to me there are a great many orthodoxies that simpy can’t be challenged without fear of losing a friendship.

But Helen expressed at least one fearsome innermost thought that I have also had: Zapiro occasionally gets it wrong. If she can do it, so can I. Here are some of the things I never say:

So. That’s what I think, but am too cautious to say. The gist, as is plain, is a yearning for thoughtfulness and sensitivity and rigour. I’m just a foolish idealist really.

Back to cat pictures, I think.


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