Rage fatigue and professionalism

So Margaret Thatcher died.

For those who don’t know who she was, she was British Prime Minister during my youth and did a lot of things that were extremely controversial.

And that’s all I’m saying about it. Why? Two reasons.

First, I work for the Government in my 9-5 job at the moment, so I’m not really allowed to say anything overtly political – it could get me fired. I really can’t afford to get fired.

But more importantly, I try very hard to use my online presence to only put out positivity. And engaging with Thatcher’s legacy in any way shape or form is going to offend at least half of my potential readership a whole heck of a lot. Not that I’m unwilling to offend. Sometimes I think it’s very necessary. But most of the time, what would be the point?

Increasingly I tend towards the view that people only read articles that they expect will reflect their views. Very few people are willing – or able – to seek out viewpoints that differ from their basic kneejerk reactions, consider them carefully and thoughtfully, and decide to either reject them anew or, perhaps, to amend their views somewhat if they were persuaded.

So those who hated her and everything she stood for have articles like Russell Brand’s piece on Thatcher to read. And those who loved what she stood for and cherish her memory can enjoy David Cameron’s eulogy.

I have very strong opinions indeed about her. VERY strong.

My close friends know what I think. But I don’t for one second flatter myself that anybody else is interested. And even if they are, I certainly don’t think that my insights will improve their understanding or their day. I just don’t think my views matter a damn.

Does this make me a lightweight, a fraud or some kind of political refusenik? I don’t think so, although I could see why you might think that. And certainly, adopting a public stance of political neutrality while at the same time claiming Phil Ochs as one of my greatest artistic and moral idols may seem contradictory and doublethinkish.

But unless I have the time and energy to become a Laurie Penny or a P.J. O’Rourke, I think I should probably keep schtum and let them get on with it. My father, too, is expert at blending passionate political commentary with art and humour.

They’re better at this stuff than I am, they’re professionals. Anything I post here about Thatcher would be amateur in comparison. And that would embarrass me.

Maybe, at some point in the future, I will feel that I have the time, energy and wherewithal to do my political views justice in blog  form. Maybe I will adopt a role as political commentator, and try to hone a form of non-fiction writing that addresses the complexity of the world in a way that I feel is worthy of attention.

But I come from the school of ‘if you can’t do something properly, don’t do it at all’ and right now I haven’t the time to do it properly.

I think my approach largely also stems from rage-fatigue. My Twitter feed particularly gets filled with a lot of people basically just shouting into the void. I sometimes feel as if I’m drowning in opinions. More than once I’ve considered leaving Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook, for that reason. But instead I tend my Twitter feed carefully, weeding out the relentlessly negative voices – sometimes of people who, in person, I find delightful company – and keeping those who express my kind of views with eloquence and intelligence, and also those who challenge them in the most interesting and provocative ways.

If I have something political to say, it will crop up in my books – hopefully in the form of a dilemma or discussion rather than an ill-advised rant (one good reason to be sure you’ve got a good editor!)

You want to know what I think? Buy me a drink and we’ll talk. Or read my books – they’re very political, with a small p, and hopefully not partisan. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to share stuff that makes me smile, think or gasp in wonder, and not the stuff that makes me rage. Stuff like

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