This post has been sat in my drafts for quite some time now. Why? Because I kept putting off actually posting it – it has some sensitive issues, mixed in with my political views. I knew I felt some form of anger, but when I tried to write it all down in my first draft, I’d just kind of puked up a few confused thoughts – it took me a while to really pick apart why I was angry, and if that anger was even valid, and worthy of a blog post. And you guessed it. Damn right my anger is valid.
It all started when I saw the #BeKind circle around social media. Of course, I’m a huge fan of the trending hashtag and what it advocates for. But it’s the context in which #BeKind was being used in, is what I’m not such a fan of.
The hashtag was being used in relation to Boris Johnson, as he sat with his head in his hands, looking exhausted, in a photo. The comments were instructing people to #BeKind to him, rather than criticise his (wreckless) actions, with regards to the pandemic. I’m only assuming here, but the social media users posting this were probably all passionate Tories. Rather than consider the magnitude of the issue that is online hate, they jumped straight to supporting their political leader. Surely it’s disrespectful to Caroline Flack, where the #BeKind movement all started, by comparing her to Boris Johnson?
I’m not usually one to be particularly open about my political stance on the world. The reason for that used to be simply because I didn’t know much about politics. Now, I still don’t know loads about it, but I know more. My reasoning now, is because I’ve realised all it takes is a very reasonable sentence to get a smack in the face or a savage ‘f*ck off’ from whoever you’re talking to. There are some really opinionated people out there. But one thing I am very happy and proud to be open about, is that I am not a Tory.
My initial thoughts about the posts were that #BeKind was just a careless attempt at encouraging others to support his decisions. But then I realised this is not necessarily the case; you can be both kind and unsupportive of his decisions, simultaneously. To be honest, I hope you all don’t support his decisions, both in terms of the pandemic (i.e. refusing a pay rise for NHS workers, refusing to accept much needed PPE, and making inappropriate jokes about covid-19), and in general in terms of his attitudes towards women, people of colour and the LGBTQ+ community. For instance, you can question his thought process behind delaying the lockdown in a respectful manner. If you call him a fu***** c*** though, as tempting as that may be in your moment of anger, you need to re-think your wording there and be a bit more…adult. I know, I hate being an adult too.
As well as attempting to breed the number of Tories, which is already too high for my liking, they aimed to silence and stop the negative posts about Johnson’s attitudes and decisions. They saw that this pandemic has highlighted the flaws in our current government, and they wanted to downplay it as much as possible.
So why is the comparison between Flack and Johnson disrespectful, in my opinion anyway?
First of all, they are two very different people, in very different situations and positions. The Prime Minister is…well, the Prime Minister. He is a powerful man, able to make drastic changes to our country if and when he pleases. He has the power to influence a whole nation, and more. Caroline Flack was just a celebrity. Yes, her popularity would have meant that she had some influence over Love Island viewers, her Instagram followers, etc, but this doesn’t even come close to the power of Johnson.
I find the conflation of political attitudes and the very valuable movement that is #BeKind, entirely disrespectful.
Granted, this whole post is me just assuming. For all I know, the use of #BeKind could simply be to encourage people to put the lessons from Caroline’s tragic death into action. But I’m not stupid. What better way than to use a a hashtag that is deep rooted with such sadness, anger and importance, to apply in aid of your political goals? Using this hashtag for a political reason completely downplays the importance of it, and downplaying the importance of it allows for more disgusting online comments to be made and lead to more potential, avoidable suicides.
I’m not saying that Boris’ outrageous decisions, attitudes and comments make it acceptable for a person to verbally abuse him online, or give him death threats. That defeats the whole point of #BeKind. No one deserves to be told they should go and kill themselves. As well as this, I think that reducing the #BeKind movement down to ‘my Tory political attitudes are more important than respecting Caroline’, is a bit sh*tty, if I’m honest.
The lovingly-made comments and posts about him, along with ‘#BeKind’, paint a picture of an exhausted father (of how many kids, we can’t be sure), hard at work and undeserving of all the online hate. Of course, that is partly true – he is not deserving of the words ‘c*nt’ etc, otherwise I’d be a bit of a hypocrite, advocating for #BeKind. And yes, maybe he is hard working: I’ve never met him personally or watched a ‘Day in the Life of Boris Johnson vlog’. But my point is, using #BeKind for a political goal, rather than its original aim, is just not on.
OK, rant over. Thank you for listening to my Ted talk and goodbye.