Long before I was old enough to enter a public house my dad gave me a sound piece of advice. Never get involved in discussions involving politics or religion. It is universally acknowledged that both are as divisive and certainly as contentious as each other, yet both are inextricably linked to our way of life: everyone has an opinion. Today the same piece of advice may easily apply to the way in which we approach and communicate using social media sites like Facebook or Twitter: with one significant difference: the absence of facial or vocal expression making it impossible to truly articulate ones words, which may be misconstrued or misinterpreted so easily. There exists a comfort zone in the way we comment or ‘pronounce’, effortlessly forgetting that our thoughts, once written, may be seen by people around the world: friends of friends, their friends, then friends of their friends. The recently appointed youth police commissioner Paris Brown found this to her detriment. Deeply held political, religious, racial, sexual, or any other opinion that one may harbour that might or knowingly be deemed offensive to any one single person or organisation, once published, are very difficult to retract. Assuming of course that one may later regret such foolhardy impulses.
The bottom line is that the internet is certainly expressionless but not quite as ‘faceless’ as one might suspect, consequently, whatever one may wish to pronounce to the world about ones feelings say, about the recent death of Baroness Thatcher, or even Tony Blair’s decision making processes over Iraq, be certain that it’s content and impact will not be something that will reflect poorly on you or those closest to you. Should I express a view regarding the death of a three term British Prime Minister? Only that history will take care of that, and to a certain extent, already has. My all too often knowledge of how grief can feel only leaves me with thoughts of condolence for the living.