When I was growing up my parents were very open and vocal about most matters. No car journey was complete without a deep philosophical or political debate. As the wheels of their furniture van ate up the miles between deliveries of one shabby chest of drawers and the next ancient wardrobe (they were antique dealers if you were wondering), we would thrash out the Northern Ireland question, the benefits of unionisation and whether capitalism or communism was the better ideology.
Given my ornery nature I was almost guaranteed to take the opposing view, regardless of whether it actually reflected my true opinion. After all what sort of debate is it without any contention? I still recall the memorable Christmas when the Romanian revolution ended with the deposed leader Ceaușescu and his wife being executed by firing squad.
The festive season was peppered with heated rows about whether meting out the death sentence was fair punishment for his cruel regime, or an inhuman response from a people no more civilized than their leader. Now as an English 18-year-old with precious little experience of the world, what did I know about this complex question? But never let it be said that I didn’t keep up the argument at least until the New Year.
You see no global issue is safe from my half-baked views, which is perhaps why I should observe with more care the edict that such issues should not be raised in polite company. They are, as my mother would always warn: ‘Not a dinner thing’. As in they should not be discussed at the dinner table for fear that crockery might begin to fly.
To be fair the topics covered by this rule in our household covered a broad church from the mention of all bodily functions, to any criticism of the standard of cookery right up to geopolitics, but that doesn’t make it any less sound a commandment.
Perhaps in this modern age it should extend from the dinner table to Facebook. For while I readily admit to an addiction to this social networking site, I think it has a purpose to serve and I am not sure that is the dissemination of contentious political views.
I love to see pictures of friend’s holidays, kids and funny videos, but at the moment I feel that navigating my feed is a bit like tip toeing along the Gaza strip, without the bombs and rockets of course. I have friends who take violently opposing views and both pop up with regularity accompanied by supporting videos, news stories and eye-witness testimony, which they believe prove their point beyond a shadow of doubt.
As with most of the world, I have my own opinions on this subject, but I have learned that it is probably safest in such an emotional conflict to keep them to myself. Sadly no matter how strongly you hold a view in this case there is sure to be someone who holds the equal and opposite view just as vehemently. It is best left to those actually involved and fully informed to attempt to solve this intractable problem without the injection of cod philosophy from the Facebook community.
Therefore disobey the upgraded 2014 version of my mum’s rule at your peril as I want to reclaim my Facebook feed for funny videos of cats and pictures of ever more ingenious loom band designs.
That said if I have a long journey to fill, you’re all welcome to pile in and we’ll have the Middle East problem solved by Stockport!