As with most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love how it can spark and nurture debate and communication, I love how it can bring people together and I love how easy it is to find a friend when you need it most, long nights with colicky babies or times when you just need to click the ‘like’ button to know you aren’t the only one and someone out there does relate.
I don’t know if it’s just indicative of the way the world is at the moment, or maybe it’s just because of who I choose to follow, but my timeline has become a lot more politcised of late. I see a lot of meme-style photos and captions which make a point in a funny way and I share a lot of them too as I think other people will appreciate them. The cost in doing this is that everyone has the right to share and not everyone shares my politics, so there’s an element of tolerance all-round (unless you just hide people…).
In the last week, since the death of Margaret Thatcher, Facebook has been awash with hyperbole and opinion from all sides of the debate, but I’ve noticed a growing number of people using the “You weren’t even alive” argument with regards to other people’s opinion on her. I know I’m probably going to upset people I know by saying this, but I’m aghast at this attitude.
At the risk of going all Godwin’s Law on your asses, you have an opinion on Hitler, right? Were you born after 30th April 1945? I know using Hitler as an example is real ‘lowest common denominator’ stuff, but he’s as good an historical figure as any to use to make a point.
I thought that the point of teaching history was to observe and learn from the past? Do we now just teach things to kids and expect them to have no opinion on them? Fine, the people in your timeline weren’t standing on the picket lines with the miners, they weren’t the first in the dole queue and they may not have punched a copper in the poll tax riots, but if the passing of the most divisive British political figure is what it takes to make people give a shit, shouldn’t this be commended?
As a person in their late twenties, I like to think that I’m not SO far off the planet in terms of ‘the kids of today’, and I can say that I genuinely worry about the disenfranchised generations that are bringing up the ranks behind me. The majority of them may never vote because they feel that NO political party understands them or has their interests at heart. What these young people need is something to make them realise that a change needs to be made. They need to be able to look at our history and feel passionate about something and while it may seem like bandwagon-jumping to people in their 40’s and 50’s, these are important times and things could be headed right back to where they were in the 80’s, unless we do something about it.
The phrase ‘Lest We Forget’ comes from the poem ‘Recessional’ by Rudyard Kipling and is generally used in reference to the soliders who were lost during the First World War, urging younger generations to remember the sacrifice made by these brave men and women, but it is something that should be applied here too. The sentiment is the same; learn from the mistakes of others and be grateful for sacrifices made on your behalf.
So, just for the record, I was born in 1984. I wasn’t politically conscious when Thatcher was in power but I sure as hell have an opinion on it, and of that you should be glad.