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Weeknotes 2022.30

A few things I’ve been thinking about this week. The thirtieth post of a series.

It was in last Sunday’s paper, but I read this article about coffee this week, which has this comment in the first paragraph:

The mother-of-one, 36, who works in a lettings agency, is such a fan that she often makes the 20-minute round trip in her car to pick up a caramel latte if she’s working from home.

My initial reaction was a mildly judgemental one, wondering why someone would drive for a drink while working at home, and wasn’t that terrible for the environment, and so on and so righteous. And then I realised that I sometimes get a sandwich or salad delivered when I’m working from home, and that’s more expensive, more replicable at home without special equipment, and possibly worse for the environment. I promptly dismounted my high horse.

I’ve written before (11) about my worry that my complete absence of desire to ever enter politics is part of a wider problem:

If I’m not willing to engage, why should anyone else bother? Are people who enjoy party politics really the people we want making decisions on our behalf? Shouldn’t we all engage more for the good of society? Is “I don’t want to” just a selfish whinge? How can things improve if we leave politics only to those who can be bothered? Aren’t decisions made by those who show up?

The spectacle of the Tory leadership contest just illustrates why I could never bring myself to try.

It’s painful to watch the candidates contort themselves into arguing that they will bring “change” through “continuity” with the party’s 2019 manifesto; performing sleight of hand to impress a tiny unrepresented selectorate without alienating the Tory voting base; trying to dodge sledgehammers thrown by colleagues who, in a short time, will be telling us that the candidate they currently despise is the best Prime Minister since Thatcher.

It’s unedifying, but worse than that, nobody but nobody could sensibly argue that leaving the selection to a small cadre of self-selecting unelected fee-paying loyalists is the best way to find the right person to unite and lead a nation. And yet, there is consensus on that element of the process for replacing a Prime Minister across both main parties. It is absurd, and it shows that neither party truly values good Government over party management and membership.

Why would anyone with solid principles and a real drive to do the right thing by the population debase themselves by participating in this sort of vaudeville trash?

I know most politicians will never in their life enter a leadership competition, I know that most MPs quietly beaver away, I know local politics is different, I know party membership isn’t a prerequisite for political impact. But the system is patently broken, there appears to be a collective decision to pretend it’s not. I don’t understand why anyone would choose to leap into the shallow, fetid puddle we’ve collectively decided to pretend is an elite swimming pool.

Nine years ago this week, I shared this Radio Free Europe article about Facebook. I particularly drew attention to this point:

Characters revert to type on social media, but their attributes are turbo-charged. The annual family update (“Chloe has had an impressive first term at Brown and seems to enjoy the social life as much as the academic!”) has become the hourly update. The whiny friend we once met now and again outside the grocery store is now a daily occurrence. Of course, we can hide these people on our feeds, but this is information we love to hate. That is the dichotomy of Facebook.

I’ve not been on Facebook for years now, and so I feel a little more removed from the whole thing. But from hearing people talk about it, it strikes me that everything in that quote, and everything in the RFE article, is still substantially true. The problems highlighted seem to have deepened rather than being solved.

Even I watched a few minutes of football today.

This post was filed under: Weeknotes.

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