Leave me out of it
I hate it when I get included in things without my permission. For example; in a recent radio programme (not on Radio Suffolk), the presenter, who said he lived in the countryside, gave the impression that most of us who live in the country are angry about the hunting ban. “Not true!” I yelled at the radio. I take exception to being associated by default with those who demonstrated outside parliament a few weeks ago, since no one’s ever bothered to ask my opinion, and I get the impression that the subject doesn’t get much of an airing in my countryside neighbourhood anyway.
Then there was the case of poor Boris Johnson, sent to apologise to outraged Liverpudlians for daring to allow his leader writer to suggest that the mass mourning for the unfortunate Mr Bigley was nothing of the sort. The anonymous journalist had written what lots of us had been thinking, including lots of Liverpudlians; that we grieve for those we’ve known and loved, not for those we never knew, however much we may sympathise with their families and friends.
I do wish that the media would discourage the unhealthy trend of including everyone in everything, whether we like it or not. It’s a sort of emotional blackmail, suggesting that if we don’t wish to be included in whatever it is, there must be something wrong with us. Far from it. But it does mean that you have to be brave to say, “Actually, I’d rather you left me out of this.”
I’ve always been inclined to resist being taken for granted. I can speak for myself. So can many other people who don’t care to have someone else give their opinions or express their emotions – whose opinions and emotions are they, after all? Of course, there are a few who quite like having other people make up their minds for them; it’s less bother that way; you don’t have to think about it. And it’s possible to get swept away on a tide of emotion when you’re in a crowd being led by charismatic leaders. The mass media can have a similar effect, which is why they have a responsibility to be very, very careful about doing so.
Of course, if you think for yourself, you have only yourself to blame if you get things wrong, but I find that other people seldom take the blame for anything, especially if several thousand other people agree with them. In Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, Pickwick says, “It’s always best on these occasions to do what the mob do.” “But suppose there are two mobs?” suggested Mr Snodgrass. “Shout with the largest,” replied Mr Pickwick.