To a lot of people, the world may seem like a crazy place. Britain has voted to leave the EU and Trump is getting votes. I don’t want Trump to be president and I think the UK will take an economic bashing for leaving. Of course, it would be lazy and an active step against self-development to simply chalk it down to the world going crazy. so what have these events taught me?
First of all the most obvious is social media echo chamber effect. As a university graduate most of the people bump into at work and become friends on facebook are university educated. This introduces a selection bias. My facebook newsfeed implies that everyone in the world hates Trump and only a tiny fraction of people on the sidelines think voting out is a good idea. Even within this selection bias, people feel the need to doctor their social media even more. I have come across numerous examples of this but to avoid waffle I will demonstrate with one tale:
A person on my news feed posted an article about the Indian chief of police saying: “you may as well enjoy rape”. People below commented that he should be raped to see if he enjoys it. I read the article as I found it unlikely that someone would publicly say such a thing, even if they believed it. It turned out that the chief was refusing to relax gambling laws even though gambling was hard to police. His response was that it was morally wrong. It’s like saying you may aswell enjoy rape because it’s hard to police. Two minutes of Googling revealed that the chief was tough on rape pushing for harsher sentences. I posted on the thread that this is the case. The response, I was unfriended and my post was deleted.
Now people can unfriend who they want, it’s their corner of the internet and they have the right to do that. However, doctoring your social media further on top of natural selection bias may make comfortable browsing but it skews your perception of reality further inhibiting your ability to empathise with others with different views or process information that contradicts your convictions. The National Academy of Sciences published a study that found that users “tend to aggregate in communities of interest, which causes reinforcement and fosters confirmation bias, segregation, and polarisation” [link]. I try and read different sources and I make a point of never unfriending anyone no matter how annoying their posts are. I was under the impression that it was going to be close. However, I was not surprised when I see posts of utter disbelief at Trump support or Brexit victory.
The second thing I have learnt is that fashion politics does not have as much of an effect on democracy as I thought it had. When I was 18 and first went to university I joined a socialist political group. The group didn’t consist of students. It mainly consisted of working class adults who either didn’t go to university or had dropped out. Although I learn to libertarian values now this was a big character development. They were dedicated, they read around and I realised that many of them were more clued up on politics than my university friends. They stood to their convictions even when they got death threats through their letterboxes. Even now I still have this deep respect for them. When I came to London I came across fashion politics as social media was growing. Fashion politics is when someone gets an overwhelmingly popular concept like standing up for the working class, fighting racism, standing up for women’s’ rights and cheaply tacks it on somewhere for easy publicity or to attack their opponent. There are very good reasons why these concepts are popular but it’s the way fashion politics uses them that is the issue. Fashion politics is generally inconsistent and rife will double standards. Classic examples would be pop stars boycotting certain states in the USA while on tour due to the states refusing to allow transgender people into whichever bathroom they identify with on that day only to fly to Dubai on their tour even though Dubai’s laws make homosexuality illegal. Or feminists writing about how air conditioning is sexist in a national newspaper whilst women all over the world are being denied basic rights [link] and using the concept of women’s rights to push their article and even get interviewed on the news.
My time in London has exposed me to graduates from world class universities who went to private school, earn salaries that are way over the national average (£26,500) in professions that are professionally protected. They complain about their pay not rising with inflation whilst my brother, a semi-skilled labourer takes pay cuts, reduction in hours and has to travel abroad to fix machines worldwide on a flat day rate. Now I’m not angry at their situation. I got into UCL for postgrad and my full-time wage is above the national average, my issue is with the fashion politics in these circles. For demonstration let’s look at immigration. If an immigrant arrives with limited paperwork, or qualifications that are not accepted in the UK they will not be competing with doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants etc for jobs. They will be competing with unskilled or semi-skilled labour jobs. When more people come in and houses can’t be built quickly enough demand outstrips supply and prices go up. The working class are the first to feel the brunt. Now the stats may or may not support this theory/fear but it is logical to see how working class will see immigration in a very different light to university graduates. It’s also logical to see why working class are more likely to fear immigration. However, when working class express their concerns the self-proclaimed leftists make fun of the way they articulate, point out that they are not educated, call them stupid and label them as racists. In the form of fashion politics, they have used their own privilege of getting a higher education and snobbery to suppress the working class from even expressing their concerns. However, this doesn’t change anything. What Trump’s success and Brexit has shown is that these people don’t go home thinking: well they made fun of me, accused me of things I’m not and didn’t let me speak, I will vote for what they stand for now. Instead, they stay in the background and vote for what they originally believed in.
So are others asking why Trump and Brexit is happening? There will be some but sadly they have simply shifted their snobbery. They are now stating that the education of Brexit and Trump voters is low and they are calling them stupid and racist. There are videos on youtube where Bernie supporters are saying to Trump supporters that they are not worth wasting their time on. On facebook, you can see in the post below that the poster wants to maintain his echo chamber and call people who agree with him smart and others stupid. Sadly it also has a lot of likes.
The success of Trump and Brexit are testaments to how effective democracy is. Everyone has the right to vote in order to protect them. If people who didn’t receive a university education didn’t have the right to vote they would be subjected to the snobbery and jeering of the graduates who have a nasty habit of employing fashion politics without any consequence. The vote gives working class the power to be counted. The university graduates want action in their direction they will actually have to engage with people, let them speak and forget the fashion politics.