Imagine picking up a cookery book and discovering that alongside the recipes there was the author’s opinions on Trump, Brexit, and half a dozen other things that have nothing to do with cooking.
Imagine further that those opinions were not presented intellectually, but as a series of diatribes, liberally sprinkled with swear words.
I don’t know about you, but I’d feel that I’d been short-changed in a way. That’s the way I feel about social media. I realise there wasn’t a legal or financial contract involved when I followed people, but surely there is a kind of moral contract?
I tend to follow people who I think are knowledgable in particular areas, primarily either education technology, the craft of writing or publishing/self-publishing. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I don’t care about their opinions on the politics of the day except insofar as they have a bearing on the areas I’m interested in.
For example, one known unknown about Brexit is whether or not the EU Copyright Directive will be implemented in the UK. Therefore, if someone wishes to tweet or post a Facebook update about that aspect of Brexit, fair enough. But if you’ve presented yourself as a writer, and you just feel like venting about Brexit, why not start a blog about it and leave the rest of us alone?
Now, I realise that I am free to unfollow people whose tweets and so on I don’t like, and that’s precisely what I’ve started doing. That may not matter much to you, but I don’t think losing followers unnecessarily is a great idea.
Anyway, I just wanted to flag up that I am starting to unfollow people who continually bang on about politics in a way that is unrelated to education, ed tech, writing and so on. I wish to make it clear that I am not unfollowing people whose opinions I disagree with: I think that healthy debate is one of the things that make the world go round.
I’m also unfollowing people who think the best way of dealing with the issues of the day is to swear and rant, call people idiots or worse, and generally behave in a way that most normal people would find obnoxious. I’ve done a lot of negotiation in my time, and I have never tried insulting the other party or swearing at them in order to get them to agree to a proposal. I mean, come on!