So. I came back from Austria (very nice indeed, thank you for asking) and stayed in London a bit with my mucker Jane. And it does make me laugh that, while I could get on-line easily in the back of beyond, up a mountain in Austria (when I was in a fit state to use it, of course), Jane doesn’t have any wifi so I was pretty much gagged.
But, before I was logged off I went on Twitter (as you do) and checked on a few people I like to RT from time to time and…what? And old friend I was apparently no longer following? And he not following me? Twitter playing around again? So I clicked Follow and it told me I’d been blocked. Blocked? Nobody has ever blocked me before. Or maybe they have but I just never realized - in which case – ca ne fait rien.
And, I freely confess, I felt hurt, very hurt. I mean, this is someone I’ve known online for a fair few years now, and have supported pretty staunchly IMO. But that's by the by - what surprised me was that he never seemed the blocking type. It seemed a petty action to take and he'd not struck me as petty.
And I puzzled…why? And I thought back and remembered that our last exchange had been over Margaret bloody Thatcher. I’d tweeted that I was logging off for the night because my timeline was starting to sicken me. That, while I might hate Thatcher’s policies, I could never feel delight at any human’s death. I could never dance on a grave. It’s not Thatcher per se. I felt the same about Osama bin Laden. About Saddam Hussein. Would I feel the same about someone who had killed people I know personally and love? I can’t say for sure but I suspect so. I just can’t delight in death. Anyone’s death. And dancing on the grave of a senile 80-something? It’s…infantile and petty. IMO.
Should we be spending 50 million on her funeral? No. IMO. Should the BBC play Ding Dong the Witch is Dead? Yes. IMO. It’s called freedom of speech. Should Thatcher be feted? No. IMO.
And that’s the thingy. In MY opinion. Your opinion could be very different and, hey, that’s fine. What I don’t get is why people want everyone to think and feel exactly the same way they do. How bloody boring is that? I often see opinions I disagree with on social media – but do I race off and block the owners of those opinions? Nope. I just think, ah well, horses for courses. And I’ll look at what they’re saying and see if maybe my views are ripe for changing. Sometimes they are, sometimes not. But the opportunity is there, which would never happen if I only followed people I agreed with 100 percent of the time.
Then I ask myself – but what if you saw someone cheering at, for example, that poor girl who was raped and then lashed for adultery? Well, okay, I might unfollow for that. So, I guess, maybe for some people Thatcher arouses equally strong passions. Hey, I don’t know. It’s certainly sad that, even in death, she manages to divide people. And I do just wonder if there would be this depth of feeling if she had been a man.
But, hey, gender aside, she’s a useful scapegoat. A place to pin feelings people don’t like to admit in themselves. I've written about scapegoating before - here and here - and I still find it a fascinating topic. There’s a seething undercurrent in the UK and Thatcher has provided a focus for it. You could argue that it’s actually healthy – that it allows an outpouring of frustration and anger which people feel unable to do in any other way – that it provides a focus for feelings of helplessness.
What could be transforming would be if people looked at why she arouses quite such intense feelings in themselves? Not because of what she did but for what she stood for. What does she mean to you and how many of those qualities might you deny in yourself? It’s a thought, huh? But that’s a big ask – and for most people it will just be visceral, an animal instinct.
But still, it’s interesting, no?
Regarding my erstwhile friend, I feel no ill-will. The loss of friendship is always sad but some things run their course and then you must just bless them, let them go and move on. Otherwise they just fester. And festering – like immoderate sustained hatred - is seriously counter-productive because the only person it harms is you. IMO. :-)