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Friday, 19 June 2015

Sugar Butty

When we were very young we played in gangs, each seeking their place like young planets finding their orbit. Occasionally we'd find someone who didn't fit in. Looking back I think this was what William Golding had in mind when he wrote Lord of the Flies. 

In our case it was a young boy who earned the name of 'Sugar Butty' because he made the mistake of confiding that bread, butter and sugar was his favourite sandwich. His other mistake was to have been born a bit simple-minded and tragically trustful. 

It brings tears to my eyes now, along with a deep sense of shame, when I recall how we treated him. We'd circle the house, cat-calling 'Sugar Butty,' and renounced every overture from him or his mum. Only as a parent can you appreciate the full horror of what we were doing. 

You'd be right in saying that we were only eight or nine year olds, and though our acts were ugly, the damage hideous, we had a lifetime to mature and understand what we'd done.

Which is why I found interesting an article claiming that left-wing people are on the whole more intelligent than right-wing people. Though my politics are somewhere between Bakunin and Atilla the Hun, I'd argue the article misses the point. As a keen reader of both left and right wing blogs, the real contenders for the lower IQ stakes are to be found in the comments that follow an opinion piece of either wing.

Reading them, it becomes clear that being leftwing or rightwing is neither here or there. It's more a case of  'tribal' politics the 'mature' equivalent of eight year olds seeking security in gangs and damning outsiders. If I was to offer a leftwing opinion in a rightwing blog, or a rightwing opinion in a leftwing blog there'd be howls of 'Sugar Butty' or something equally mature. And that is how Twitter-mobs, and political blogs increasingly work, ie  self-selecting gangs for the insecure. At least we were eight year olds and knew no better.


Maria Zannini said...

Children can be cruel especially when bolstered by their little gangs and cliques. It's ironic that social media provides the same false courage to adults who conveniently hide behind their select moral ground.

What's more amusing is how every side denigrates the other for the same infractions.

The other day I read a diatribe from a liberal chastising a conservative for a litany of sins, yet it seemed to escape him that he was committing the same atrocities of bigotry and slander in his post.

In other words, the first liar doesn't stand a chance.

I do wish people would stop proselytizing. I've never seen a person yet change their opinion on the conviction of a Facebook post. Yet it seems terribly important to the zealot doing the sermonizing.

Veronica Sicoe said...

Straight to the heart. It's the hordes of commenters, the tribes of trolls, that drag any ideology down whether they support or descend upon it. If the world wide web of servers we call the internet ever becomes self-conscious, it will purge the planet thinking we're the source of its worst infection.

Mike Keyton said...

One of the bad things about the internet, Maria, is that it's too easy to surround yourself with like minded spirits. One one level that might be deemed wholesome. On another level it's also claustrophobic and limiting. What I like best about my facebook page - unplanned and thoroughly random, is that it consists of friends of all views and none, family ditto, and so every morning, as I slowly wake up with my four strong cups of tea, I scan through a whole range of views. I don't have to agree with them, its good enough that they're friends.

Mike Keyton said...

Vero, a good argument against AI there. They'd be so disillusioned they'd either become 'badder' versions of ourselves, or delete us as a major and unnecessary irritant :)

Misha Gerrick said...

I agree with you. Lately, I've been noticing a general trend towards a lack of critical thinking and people saying things to "sound right" without actually realizing what's being said.

Maturity is when you can see pros and cons to either political party or whatever. Or to hold your own opinion after weighing up pros and cons, and STILL respecting those with other opinions at the same time.

Mike Keyton said...

Sorry for the delay, Misha. I'm losing track of time. I'm losing track of most things :)

What you say is true. We live in an age of manufactured 'herd-think'