‘Us, and them, and after all we’re only Ordinary Men’ (or Women)

Like many people I was shocked by the outcome of the EU Referendum on 23rd June. As 95% of people I know were for remain, and being a Londoner I had been around people who were mostly remainers I thought, naively as it turns out, that it was a foregone conclusion that we would remain and it would be a little like the Scottish Referendum ‘a bit of a debate and people having a rant but coming to their senses in time to vote in the obvious right way’. I was so surprised and disturbed that it didn’t work out like that it has taken me over a month to even think about blogging about it.

On 24th June I was in a bit of a daze while the momentousness of what had happened started to sink in. On the evening of that day my partner and I went to a sort of working men’s club to see a Pink Floyd tribute band. I fell into conversation with a drunk man and of course there was only one topic of conversation on that day and let’s say we had very different views on the matter and had voted in different ways. Things started to get heated between us when we were interrupted by the band starting to play. At the time I thought that this was just as well as I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going and I didn’t want an outright confrontation. On reflection, however, I realised that it was very enlightening for me to meet and talk with someone who had a totally different perspective and life view to me, and I wondered if it could have been useful for both of us to have continued our conversation.

This made me ponder upon how polarised our society has become, crippled with opposition and segregation and how the referendum vote fell very much across class, geographical and age divides. Social media is a key way in which we socialise these days but by its very nature it leads us to only communicate with people who are, pretty much, like us and in other ways too we seem to only mix with our own kind.

This seems to me to be sad in itself but also a real shame that we are missing out on hanging out with a variety of others as it’s only in exchanging views with people who are different to us that we can learn and gain greater understanding about them, as well as formulate, refine and really check out our own views.

Perhaps one thing we can all learn from Brexit is the value of greater communication and socialising with a broad mix of our fellow citizens, perhaps virtually, but more importantly getting out there and doing it in person, then at least we can have more understanding of where others are coming from and perhaps this can even be the start of us ‘coming together as a nation’.

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