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When the personal is political and irreversibly public what will our legacy be?

03 Jul 2022 4 minute read
Photo by capsun is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Ben Wildsmith

If you ever look at the state of the UK and wonder how we’ve got here, have a read through your local Facebook page and reflect on the terrifying reality that all those people have a vote.

Social media has lifted the lid on the inner lives of our neighbours and their thought processes are now on display for all to see, preserved forever on Mark Zuckerberg’s servers.

Our wildest, least considered utterances are indelibly etched into immortality, beyond the reach of any deletion tool.

Tracing the family tree will be a very different experience for our descendants. The most troubling aspect of it for most of us is deciphering the copperplate handwriting in the 1891 census.

‘So, Great-Uncle Ezekiel was a sniper, cool! Oh, hang on, it says pauper…’

Give it a few years and genealogy websites will be flogging off timelines of the deceased to unsuspecting family historians so they can search for shared characteristics with their ancestors and feel some connection to the grand sweep of human experience.

‘Ok honey, I know it was expensive, but I’ve paid for Aunt Courtney’s 2023 socials. It was such a pivotal time in history, I feel like the kids should know how our family fitted in to it all.’

‘I absolutely get that darling; I don’t mind missing out on our holiday this year. That was when World War 3 started and the old United Kingdom began to break up. Can I look with you?’

1st January 2023

CourtneyRocks- Happy New Year to everyone in Llareggub Community Group, except the snakes. You know who you are. 00.00

CourtneyRocks- Can whoever has parked their car outside the food distribution point please move it as the army will need to get in with our delivery in the morning. A little consideration? 00.05

CourtneyRocks- Just a reminder that the recent thermonuclear attack is no excuse not to clean up after your dog. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. Fuming. 06.01

ConcernedMum- Couldn’t agree more with CourtneyRocks about disgusting individuals who don’t clean up after their dogs. Llareggub used to be such a lovely place to bring up kids. 06.02

CourtneyRocks- Just a little message to those sad people who accused me of running an alt. account on here. Look after your own business, I’m just a busy mum who is concerned about Llareggub. 08.17

CourtneyRocks- RIP the population of Greater Manchester ☹ 10.28

ConcernedMum- OMG, I loved Coronation Street!  10.29

CourtneyRocks- ANOTHER pile of dog mess on the Graig. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!!!!! Seriously thinking of naming and shaming.  10.45

Lofty aspirations

And if dissociation from world events isn’t concerning enough, it’s nothing to the online behaviour of people who are engaged with the wider picture.

Political discussion groups on Facebook routinely describe themselves as forums for civil debate, often with lofty aspirations about their role in participatory democracy.

Newcomers to them tend to make the mistake of taking this at face value.

Newcomer1981- Hi everyone, thanks for letting me join the group, I’m looking forward to contributing! What do we all think about the prospects of a progressive alliance? Is that something the Conservatives should be concerned about?

EnochWasRight- Ha ha ha! Another one!

Newcomer1981- Sorry, another what?

EnochWasRight- Treehugging snowflake. I suppose we’re all supposed to be worried about your pronouns?

Lenin1917- I see Enoch has woken up in the care home. Brought round your copy of the Daily Heil, have they?

EnochWasRight- Oh dear, once again The Left have no argument so are resorting to insults. How sad.

Scotsgirl- Perhaps we could just engage with the question?

Superyoon- Oh, Wee Jimmie Krankie wants to ‘engage with the question’.

Scotsgirl- Eh?

Superyoon- You’re obviously angling for a referendum.

Etc. etc. etc.


When Carol Hanisch asserted that ‘the personal is political’ in 1970, she hadn’t been privy to just how personally unpleasant many of us can be when offered a platform for our views.

So, why have we become so toxic?

Socialists will point to the degrading effects on society of an exploitative economic system; conservatives will zone in on a lack of personal responsibility, while nationalists will find blame on the other side of the nearest border.

All of us, though, for the first time in human history, will leave everything we have said to be discovered after we are gone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m more than a little uneasy at what they will find.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

Look in the Mirror don’t read it…
I crashed into a Telegraph Poll…
Staring at the Sun made me go blind…
The Express never stops turning right…
Letters of hate come in The Mail…
Star gazers miss the big picture…
The Observer is ever watchful…
The Guardian thinks itself angelic…
Facebook and Twitter play no part in my life…
N.C will look upon me with compassion…(I hope)
My bones I bequeath to fossil hunters…

Last edited 1 year ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The Independent went their own way…
And the I thinks they have it…

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