Coming off social media has been pure bliss

I thought life without it would be so much harder – it’s been the opposite

I used to think they were so tedious. Those ridiculous people who left social media with trumpet sounds and angel music to wave them off. They’ll be back – they always come back. It drove me crazy that ‘getting off social media’ was this virtuous act that would allow you the ability to forever look down your nose at the rest of the poor plebs who would remain trapped in their cesspits arguing endlessly about Brexit and Piers Morgan.

Well I did leave, albeit without the fanfare. But given I did it over 6 months ago, I feel I can now put some skin on the bones. Because honestly, despite the vom inducing nature of a blog like this, I have to say it has been wonderful.

Sure, in these weird times, it means I don’t get to see or hear from all my friends and acquaintances, see their wedding photos, new children, what they’re up to with their lives, and that’s a bit of a shame. But honestly, maybe it was just the little nest I’d built for myself in my little corner of the internet that did it, but it was getting too much. Politics, Brexit, Tories, “Boris” was all that was ever being discussed. And that’s fun for a while, but not forever.

When you find yourself on the opposite side of a debate while everyone is worked up into a frenzy, it is exhausting. Even though I posted less and less frequently, I could still see it all. All the lies, the distortions, the pettiness, the frustrations all being spilled out onto the internet. I did my fair share of it over the years.

I’ll always be able to pinpoint the moment it happened. I wasn’t planning it, I just did it. 10.01pm, 12th December 2019.

One minute after I saw the election result predicting a Conservative landslide, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone and that was that. A couple of weeks later I suspended my accounts. Not deleted, as I still use Messenger, and I’ve used the marketplace to sell some things, this blog will even be posted there, but it’s not there to be scrolled through or looked at.

I couldn’t bear to see the inevitable roar of rage that was about to be unleashed. My circle of friends consists of people from Liverpool (my home city), people from the comedy world (whom I have met whilst doing standup) and others. That means Labour, left wing, Remain – not exactly the audience for an exit poll like that one.

It certainly wasn’t the result I was expecting (or desiring), but my goodness was it going to be unbearable to be a part of that reaction. If the Brexit debate had taught me anything, it was to not swim out into the ocean when you see black clouds incoming.

So I left. And it has been pure, unadulterated bliss. No more shouting and screaming (digitally of course), no more feeling the need to defend even those who I dislike, no more feeling the need to balance everything out, nothing. I’m free. I’m going to post this on social media and I won’t even read any reaction. I’m not interested any more.

There is no moral message to this – it isn’t a recommendation or a warning or anything like that. It is merely a story. I was on Facebook for the best part of a decade, Twitter less so but still regularly opened. And now I no longer have the urge to open them up, life is easier for me.

I’m aiming to restart the blog and try and make it regular again (with furlough and a worldwide crisis, it feels like a good time), but I no longer care about or will even see the reaction to it. So don’t take it personally if I’m not responding, I honestly just won’t see it.

No doubt I miss a lot of you. But it’s been for the best. Maybe I’ll see you again in real life – but probably not any time soon.

Oh great. Now I’ve got to defend Raheem Sterling

The winger is under fire – for a tattoo of a gun

Well thanks very much, instant reactors of the world. Now I’ve got to come to the defence of one the of slimiest, greediest, most loathsome individuals in the world – the Manchester City and London FC winger, Raheem Sterling. Fan-flipping-tastic.

It continues an apparent theme of this site. In recent times, I’ve come to the defence of Ken Livingstone, Diane Abbott, John Bercow and Jeremy Corbyn. Twice. It’s not always fun, but whenever anybody is being unfairly maligned or mistreated, whatever one thinks of them, one should always come to their defence.

So back to Sterling – I am loath to do this, as he is a repulsive, reptilian creature worthy of a career that spirals downwards towards ignominy and an eventual transfer to somewhere awful and humiliating like the Russian Second Division or the Scottish Third Division or Everton. Of course, these feelings of spite and bile are purely because he was a quality player who left Liverpool. I am unashamedly tribal in one aspect of life – football – and I shan’t be changing that. Indeed, if I ever met the guy I’d probably say hello and have a lovely chat. My football emotions aren’t to be taken seriously and I make no comment on the man’s character outside of football. The greedy little sod. Sorry.

So what has been his alleged crime? Mr Sterling posted a picture on Instagram that showed off his new tattoo – an M16 rifle on his lower right calf. This, safe to say, hasn’t gone down too well in this modern age of hand-wringing over guns, particularly big and scary ones, in the media.

The internet will always collapse in convulsive fits of spasmodic rage whenever any sportsperson does anything vaguely controversial

Now, I’m not going to make any comment on the offensiveness or not of his tattoo. Generally, with some exceptions, I find tattoos to be a bit of an eyesore anyway, but would never dream of telling anyone else what they should or should not have permanently etched onto their flesh. It’s not for me, but knock yourselves out if that’s what you want. Unless it contravenes a known law, you can show it off as much as you so desire.

He has explained its ‘deeper meaning’, which goes along the lines of it being a symbol against gun violence, owing to the fact that his father was himself murdered by a gunman. The positioning of it, on his right foot, symbolises the weapon that he uses to shoot with – not a gun, but his foot. again, think whatever you like about that, but its his decision and his tattoo.

It’s the reaction to it that’s got my back up. The internet will always collapse in convulsive fits of spasmodic rage whenever any sportsperson does anything vaguely controversial, and so that’s barely worth bothering with in terms of a rebuttal. But one particular reaction caught my eye and brought me here to write this defence of Mr Sterling.

A lady by the name of Lucy Cope, who founded Mothers Against Guns following the murder of her own son in 2002, gave the following statement:

“[The tattoo] is totally unacceptable. We demand he has the tattoo lasered off or covered up with a different tattoo. If he refuses, he should be dropped from the England team. He’s supposed to be a role model but chooses to glamorise guns.”

Could she not have ‘suggested‘ he cover it up? Might she not have ‘encouraged‘ him to think about removing it or changing it?

Now, I again make no comment on Ms. Cope, or her organisation. I know little about them. But I want to look at this statement and its purpose, because it seems to me extraordinary – an extreme overreaction with an unfortunate tone.

She is completely entitled to say that the tattoo is unacceptable. I take no issue with that – she can think whatever she likes and say whatever she likes in this regard, it is her opinion. Where she runs into trouble is the next phrase – “We demand…”

Ms. Cope makes a demand of a complete stranger that he either damages his body or hides it in shame. She then sets out the terms of the punishment should he refuse to comply with her demand. Of course, she has no power to enforce any of this, but the mere fact that anyone would use language like this to speak about or to another person about choices they have made speaks to the growing censoriousness that we see almost everywhere.

Could she not have ‘suggested‘ he cover it up? Might she not have ‘encouraged‘ him to think about removing it or changing it? Would not a better approach have been to actually engage him in a dialogue rather than making demands and threats?

I know exactly what I’d think if it were me being attacked. Suffice to say I’d be in no mood for a little chat

I do not wish to call into question the overwhelming emotion that such a person must feel, particularly given the tragic circumstances of her family. I’m sure I might feel exactly the same way in her situation. I also do not question her motive or intent. But this was a public statement made to a national newspaper. This kind of language does not start a healthy conversation, and I know exactly what I’d think if it were me being attacked. Suffice to say I’d be in no mood for a little chat.

It’s why I continue to implore everyone to take a step back and speak with a calm, measured tone. Take the time to think before reacting. It makes for a much calmer and less angry society, one in which we might actually be able to talk to one another rather than shout and make demands of one another. In this case, Raheem Sterling doesn’t need to answer to anyone unless he chooses to do so.

The greedy little sod.