Social media has enabled people from both the political right and left to voice their opinions easily to a wide audience. I began to notice a trend of leftist social media during the 2015 general election. This is the first time I was exposed to the left-wing on Facebook calling people ‘Tory c****’,on the BBC articles and posting statuses saying ‘f*** the Torys’.
Facebook friends that had never previously shown an interest in politics (at least when I spoke to them), commented and posted these things. It seemed as though it was a knock on affect, if you didn’t publicity pledge yourself to Labour, or another group like the Green Party, you didn’t have any morals. People who voted Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Conservative were made to feel as though they couldn’t speak up on why they voted the way they did in the election, otherwise they would be targeted by the left. If you tell someone you didn’t vote left-wing in the election you feel a unjustified sense of guilt, and I believe this was cultivate by the dominance of the left on social media.
After the election came the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the second coming for left-wing youth. On social media, everything he says and proposes is lauded by his fanatical fans. On the more important parliamentary debates, Corbyn’s view on the issues are the only moral one and if you dare disagree, you are a bad person. As Corbyn is a principled man, usually working for the common good, surely he cannot be wrong on anything? Corbyn is the most left-wing Labour leaders in decades, and his persona as a champion of the working class allows his supporters to share his beliefs all across the Internet – with the easy defence of accusing anyone that criticises him as lacking morals.
Most recently, the issue that galvanised social media was the parliamentary debate on whether the UK should expand its military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq to Syria. Of course, Jeremy Corbyn was against it. He has always been been an anti-war politician, and the left-wing of social media was firmly behind him in this regard – despite the majority of the Labour shadow cabinet voting in favour of the air-strikes. Many posts I saw on social media were from people who had never shown an interest in the Syrian conflict, but were so outraged by the UK’s decision to bomb ISIS in Syria they had to post something.
Yet they were not outraged at all by Russia’s decision to fight on behalf of Assad against ISIS, or the French stepping up their military campaign in Syria. I believe, for the most part, uniformed people share things on the conflict as a virtual pat on the back for themselves. The content of the articles, memes and tweets they shared usually amounted to ‘war is bad because it kills people’. Again, I feel most of these peoples are lemmings, simply following the left-wing crowd on social media. In the age of the Internet, it is inexcusable to post such uniformed posts without any substance, as you can easily research anything in under 30 minutes. The people who write such generic statuses don’t really care about these issues, the simply want to conform to a leftist opinion so they won’t be judged by the real left-wing in this country. Having your own opinion is a lot harder than following the crowd.
Do not take this article for what it is not. I’m not saying all supporters of the Labour Party, or Jeremy Corbyn, are uniformed or just conform to what’s popular. What I am saying is the loud voices of the left-wing have made people believe their ideology is the only morally acceptable political train of thought and, in turn, this has led to the moderates being afraid to voice their opinion, for fear of being attacked by the left. In the 2015 general election I voted Conservative. I am not a bad person, nor do I lack morals. They were merely the party that appealed to me most in my constituency. I would happily switch my allegiance if a certain candidate, or party, appealed to me more. In Britain I find it dangerous to blindly follow any particular party’s ideology and be ignorant of the benefits of others. We do not live in a country like the USA where one party represents common-sense, the Democrats, and one represents wild right-wing ideologies like the Republicans. Both the Conservatives and Labour have pros and cons, and are generally more similar than most people would like to accept. It is fine to feel more inclined to follow a certain party’s doctrine, but this shouldn’t make you ignorant and against anything the opposition party proposes, simply because they do not share the exact same beliefs as you.
While I know my experience of social media feels like a microcosm of British politics online, others could have widely different experiences. Living in a borough in London, most of the people I follow on Twitter on Facebook live in and around my area. Historically, London has largely been left-wing and supported the Labour Party so this probably is a factor as to why my timeline is so dominated by leftist politics of different varieties. People living in largely conservative areas may find the right-wing doing something similar in their region, but in my experience it is largely that the left-wing that restricts debate. When I see a far right-wing person on Facebook posting bigoted or racist comments about immigrants and Islam, I can find comfort in the knowledge that most people don’t think and feel like them. However, when I see people post generic statuses supporting a left-wing cause it angers me more as, if I voice my opinion disagreeing with them, I will probably be attacked and dismissed as an immoral Tory fanatic. This is why I find it dangerous to blindly devoutly a political party or leader. It should be every individual’s duty to research controversial topics and decide what they believe on their own, rather than blindly following the sentiment of others.