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Doctor, doctor – my echo chamber is sending me deaf!

May 16, 2017


This is serious. I’m worried that the political echo chamber I live in is starting to give me tinnitus. Or perhaps I should say, turning an existing condition into an intolerable one. But I won’t say that, because then I’d be admitting I had an existing condition rather than a new one, which would invalidate my health insurance cover, wouldn’t it? Or would it?

Ever since early 2016, I’ve tried to disrupt the harmonics of the orchestra of opinion that reaches me from my wishy-washy liberal world. Therefore I read the Daily Mail occasionally (but only occasionally – it has a low overdose threshold). I started following Trump on Twitter. And Farage. And even Boris Johnson. For goodness sake, I even visited Breitbart from time to time.

I wanted to try and understand where the other guy was coming from. I failed. I just got angry. Because it’s easy to get angry from afar. That’s what trolls do. And what Trump does.

So I decided not to get angry any more, if I could possibly avoid it. No more shrieking at the TV. No repeat of the omnidirectional, plate-smashing fury with which I greeted the Brexit result. No matter that the effort of restraining myself brought me out in boils. Keep Calm and Carry On started feeling like sensible advice rather than a commercial opportunity.

But since Trump became president, the echo chamber, full of the sweet sounds of reason, has started to feel like a pressure cooker. The voices of reason were sounding like angry wasps trapped in a fish bowl. Over the past couple of weeks, since the Comey firing, the wasps have turned into buzz-saws. And now, with the allegations about Trump playing fast and loose with America’s most sensitive intelligence, the buzz-saws are morphing into swarms of shrieking harpies.

Before I lose my hearing altogether, I should break the chamber. I should try going out a bit more.

Maybe I should seek out a few hominids bearing tattoos of the cross of St George. I should sit down with them over a pint or two, and try to understand them as human beings rather than symbols of extremism. I would discover that they love their mothers. That they have nothing against blacks personally (or for blacks, substitute effing foreigners, Muslims, Jews, Pakis and so on) – it’s just that they think we should send the bastards home.

After all, these are the kind of conversations journalists have, especially at election time. So why not a humble member of the public like me?

Perhaps I should re-engage with my Brexit-voting neighbours without accusing them of betraying the country I love – the same accusation they made against me when I voted for Blair in 1997.

Or perhaps I should take a trip to some of the less-visited parts of the United States, where I can commune with pussy-grabbers, believers in redemption, purveyors of fake news, wall builders and tax cutters. I should bask in our common humanity.

And who knows, after a few weeks with all those whom my echo chamber tells me I should deplore, the harpies will stop. The righteously indignant will go away. I will no longer worry about Trump handing out secrets to visiting Russians like chocolate chip cookies, or about billionaires subverting British democracy.

I will have learned to love the bomb. I will have become comfortably numb. And finally, I will love Big Brother.

On the other hand, probably not. I should just get hearing aids.

From → Politics, Social, UK, USA

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