Like many people, I use social media as a tool. It keeps me connected with those of a similar background, but also provides me with a platform to promote my work. So, how can I avoid alienating my readership while not making it seem like I’m ignoring the world around me?
The obvious solution, of course, is to take a line that everyone agrees on. We’re all reasonable people here, so we all believe in the same things. One side to every story. No grey area. Lovely.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the world doesn’t work like that. The world is full of contentious issues where 55% of people believe one thing and 45% believe the exact opposite. For me, those are numbers I don’t want to be playing with.
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s quite a messy situation somewhere in the Middle East. That bit next to Egypt. Yes. I know, I put it lightly.
In my personal life, I have an opinion on this matter. In my personal life, if I come up against someone with a view that I find troubling, I speak. Or rather, I should say- in my personal life, I have come up against people with troubling views, and I have spoken. I am proud of this.
Which makes it all the harder to remain impartial publicly.
It is very easy to assume, that just because my view is not “extreme”, it will not be taken as such. I have seen friends and strangers make similar mistakes.
One man assumes that, because he browses social media at work, regardless of the intention, he should not have to scroll past distressing images of the conflict. He is an educated man who has taken the time to research the conflict for himself, knows what is gong on, and worries that his coworkers may be distressed or angered to find him looking through such images.
So, he makes an open request, on social media, for the sharing of such images to end.
This is read by another man. He is also troubled by these images. Their content is shocking, certainly, but what makes him more concerned is that he has not seen such images in mainstream media. He feels like people are being blinkered against the realities of the conflict, and the suffering caused by it.
He is as rightfully indignant as the first man was rightfully troubled.
By remaining impartial, I feel guilty. I have an audience. Not a substantial one, but a noticeable one. I have a chance to share my opinion, which, because it is my opinion, I believe to be the best opinion a person could have.
In my mind, the more people who think like me, the greater the chance for the conflict to come to the correct conclusion. My political mind thinks that, by not speaking up, I am wasting the chance to use my platform for good.
It would be social media suicide. All it would take is one slip of the keyboard, and I would be branded an extremist, dragged into a comments-battle until all credibility was stripped from me as my words were twisted my indignant strangers.
I must be content to remain apolitical in public. Yes, it’s cowardly, yes, it’s cynical. But I don’t have the luxury of being otherwise.
However, in private, I know who I am. Ask me on the street, and I will say proudly. Ask me on here, and I will say nothing.