Things that I think and do
This blog is supposed to be one of satirical and humorous nature, and I like to think that I manage to get a few laughs in my posts every now and then. The thing is that I don’t hold strong opinions on too many subjects so the chance to have a well-structured and reasoned discourse doesn’t really come up.
Today is different. I’m going to plunge into the lake of potential controversy in a (mostly) serious way and discuss something that grabbed my attention over the weekend. Deep breath.
I do not think that social networks should be filled with posts about Remembrance Sunday every time the second weekend of November comes around.
Before all the keyboard warriors out there (or any keyboard warriors who might have stumbled upon this post, more to the point) label me a heretic and condemn me to the depths of eternal Interweb hell, I will explain some facts.
I believe Remembrance Day is a fantastic institution and think that a nationwide silence should be observed at 11am on the 11th November. I buy a poppy (in fact three, because I tend to lose the first two somehow), have been known to watch the Remembrance Service from London on TV, and I think of those who have died and continue to die in military service across the world.
What I don’t like to see are the Facebookists who spend Remembrance morning typing out – or, more likely, copying and pasting –Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon onto their pages. I genuinely saw a (hopefully serious) post that read “Happy Remembrance Day” with a picture of a war grave. It’s infuriating.
What are these people trying to achieve? Are they telling us that they’re better at Remembrance than everyone else? Are they saying, “Look, I’ve posted a war poem; I’m really serious about remembering”?
This is only slightly worse than people who post statuses like “Beautiful Remembrance service in London today” or “thinking of all those who gave their lives in World War I/World War II/insert war here”. I know they’re trying to show that they care and that they’re all sensitive, but it honestly makes me want to reach into the screen, grab them by the lapel and tell them to shut up.
My issue with social media’s involuntary incorporation into the Remembrance events is that for the other 364 days of the year these people are the ones posting things like “my cat just fell off the sofa lol!” or “wow, 2 many beers with the lads last night haha” or “I feel tired :(”.
Posting Dulce et decorum est on Remembrance Sunday doesn’t suddenly make you Mother Theresa or Gandhi, and nor does it mean that Facebook becomes an engine for world peace. It just makes you look pretentious and self-righteous. It also encourages all of the bravest keyboard warriors who, for some reason or another, disagree with the principle of Remembrance and start posting offensive, incoherent and grammatically incorrect comments.
Some people don’t agree with Remembrance Day (possibly with the misguided notion that it glorifies war). I disagree with them. Social media sites are not the place to be having that kind of discussion – largely because if someone feels strongly enough about something to display it publicly on the Interweb then the most reasonable argument won’t defeat them.
Facebook trivialises everything. Perhaps once it was designed to stay in touch with people and share mutually important news and points of interest, but now it seems to have become an outlet for tedious invites to events no-one wants to go to and for links to funny cat videos.
I use Facebook quite regularly but I can’t remember the last time I posted anything of any intellectual or real conversational value on there to anyone. Looking over my recent profile events I can see a promotion for a concert I played in, an amusing picture of a friend with a penis drawn over it, and some inane statuses designed to amuse and entertain.
If I want to catch up with my friends, I’ll probably call them or perhaps even meet up in person. The vast majority of posts I see on my newsfeed are pictures of strangely-shaped clouds, events being promoted or those bloody stupid moody pictures with motivational phrases. “The best places in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.” Oh bugger off.
I use Facebook – and to a lesser extent Twitter – to stay in touch with friends, look at amusing photos of myself and ignore event invitations. Yes, like most people I have friends on there that I rarely see in person and so it’s useful occasionally to see what they’re up to and be involved in their news.
I just don’t feel the need to share the fact that I’m taking part in Remembrance Day (something we should all do anyway) by photoshopping a poppy onto my profile picture.
Remembrance Day isn’t a competition to see who can be the most sincere or who thinks hardest about war and how terrible it is. It’s about remembering (oddly enough) those who fought for our freedom in two World Wars and who continue to fight today. And it’s probably easier to think about that when you’re not trying to find an online version of Wilfred Owen’s work to copy and paste.