Resolving to be resolute
I nearly broke my New Year’s Resolution last night, less than 24 hours into 2018. It is to spend less time on Twitter (and to stop reading the news*) and resist being drawn into Twitter spats with people with whom I’m likely to never agree.
But to see a tweet from none other than Piers Morgan, retweeted by someone I follow, made me incensed. It was mild enough, for him: ‘Veganuary… what new special kind of Hell is this?’ It just smacked of arrogance and ignorance. Because, Piers, #1: Veganuary is not compulsory. If you don’t like the sound of it, just ignore it. #2: Veganuary is obviously not aimed at you. Don’t bash the thousands of people who take part each year in a bid for better health and a more ethical diet. #3: What do you think vegans eat?? It’s not just dust and salad you know. #4: In one fell swoop you have criticised and offended an entire swathe of people who, for various reasons, choose to exclude animal products from their diets. That kind of low-level ‘amusing’ abuse is not helpful. #5: It’s not ‘new’, it’s been around for years. And if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.
Veganuary responded by saying ‘You know you’re doing something right when Piers Morgan disapproves.’ Good for them. I struggled to contain my reply of any one of the above five points, but eventually broke, heading onto my app to write my riposte. I was stopped in my tracks by a duel between two previous repliers who were arguing over ethics. One of them, to her credit, was trying to kill the other with kindness. I’m not sure it worked. But it made me see the futility of the response. I wasn’t going to win any arguments, and I certainly wasn’t going to convert Mr Morgan in 140 characters.
This is a perfect illustration of why I shouldn’t spend hours scrolling through my Twitter feed, reading ill-informed, incendiary tweets that rile me up and make me feel depressed about the world. I was annoyed that one short statement had threatened to ruin my evening. As I tucked into my vegan beetroot curry I thought about taking a picture and sending it to Piers, but to be honest, it didn’t look very appetising (tasted amazing though). The thing is, I love being vegan. I am really happy in my life choices. My three sisters and their families are taking part in Veganuary this year. There is so much to be positive about, and my life would be much happier if I focussed on those things instead.
But doesn’t it mean I’m living in a dream world ignoring the bad stuff? Well, no. Reminding myself that we are not all like Donald Trump is really important (and actually, Twitter is great for this, so perhaps I don’t need to give it up completely). In real life, I surround myself with people I broadly agree with; I don’t go around picking fights with people who think differently to me, and I’m certainly not friends with Piers Morgan. So why would I do that online?
Several years ago I gave up Facebook, a move that I have never regretted. I’ve written more about this here, and explored further the concept of the Social Media ‘bubble’. Online interactions certainly have their place, and as an author who’s trying to flog a book or two, it would be foolish to remove myself completely. But I think staying out of the arguments and not letting things get to me is a very honourable resolution.
It’s like caffeine: if you don’t have it, you don’t miss it – this is from a genuine tea addict who once drank up to 10 cups a day and now has nothing but Rooibos. So yes, I live in my little vegan, left-wing, de-caffeinated bubble, and you know what, Piers? I like it.
*The ‘No News’ thing is inspired by my friend David Charles, whose various experiments in positive constraints led him to the conclusion that No News is Good News: being fed negativity by world media is not good for the soul, and one can still Find Out Stuff through other sources. Read more about his discoveries here: he makes a compelling case for each.
(Thanks tomortega.blog for the dead Twitter bird image)