creative non-fiction Essay View

#FWIS

In these tumultuous political times, Laura Dilnot takes a simple hashtag as a cue to reassess where we all stand.

by Laura Dilnot

#FWIS, from where I stand. In this weird instagram world of stylish models that aren’t models, whose outfits I covet despite not being close to the bank balance to match, I see this hashtag smattering my feed. Pretty shoes, the glimpse of an ankle, tiles that ooze style, freshly manicured hands and artisan coffee. Oh so instagram, oh so lovely, oh so frivolous.

But in a world where politics have gone off-the-scale mental and division seems to be winning the war against cohesion in our societies here and around the world, perhaps it’s time we all took stock of where we stand? Where do our friends, family, neighbours stand? Does the cashier at the supermarket think like me? What about my bus driver? My boss? My friends?

As a northerner in London I spent years feeling like a fish out of water, accent wrong, clothes wrong, the non-posh kid in a middle class industry, cultural references never quite on point (to this day Bank station baffles me). But flash forward five years and a night out with the girls back in Yorkshire this Christmas fully confirmed my London-bubble status, when I was baffled that they didn’t know what an Aperol Spritz was. Call me a middle class w@*ker if you want, but as someone who wears her Yorkshire roots like a badge of honour I felt unseated. So disconnected from the place I call home, surprised by how much capital living had shaped me. And this was just a bloody drink.

“We’ve all had those moments when a friendly conversation turns into a heated debate, when you squirm uncomfortably as you find someone’s perspective positively vile”

When Britain voted for Brexit I felt sick. When I realised my mum had voted in I felt even worse; how were our views so out of kilter? If little liberal old me could be so out of touch with my own mother then my perspective must surely be really screwed. Because actually she had a point, she couldn’t tangibly see what the EU was doing for her, she’s not right wing, she’s not a bad person, she just had a view I didn’t agree with and I didn’t like it. Didn’t like the clash, the tension that even though we were one and the same we weren’t – divided by something so fundamental to the rest of our lives.

We’re never all going to have the same opinion, that’s life, some people like salty, some people like sweet. Yet once again as Trump was voted in I watched on in horror, in mourning for all that I thought was right, when celebrity seemed to value more than integrity.

But surely that’s why democracy exists? It gives everyone a chance to participate – we should feel privileged to have this right. Closer inspection of the average voter turnout rates and the disengagement smacks hard, yet Brexit was overwhelmingly higher than most general elections. This was a big decision, opinions held fiercely, displayed proudly on social media. And the big question it seemed for so many Leavers – why should we stay when I have no idea how Europe supports me and the challenges I face? What does Europe do for me?

We’ve all had those moments when a friendly conversation turns into a heated debate, when you squirm uncomfortably as you find someone’s perspective positively vile (and probably them too) but right now it feels like all the opinions I disagree with are winning the wars. My only hope for this state of turmoil is that it will make society and politicians reassess their view and try and stand in some other people’s shoes – now is a time for understanding, evaluation, a time to learn more.

Where I stood pre-Brexit, life was pretty rosy. I valued our link with Europe – it’s brought me friends and opportunities. Europe gave me reassurance of our stability, but for others they can’t have felt that hope, that positivity, that connection that I did. From where they stand maybe Europe felt like the life-force that was draining money out of Britain, that was bringing people to the country that they didn’t want, that was changing farming, industry and more, and making decisions on things they felt they had no right to.

Whether I like it or not, the world doesn’t all see the world as I do – that’s what makes it exciting. But it’s also what’s making politics seem challenging right now for lots of us, left or right, leave or remain. It seems to me the only way we’re going to move forward is if we start to take in more people’s viewpoints. So here’s to some new horizons, some new vistas, some new views from where they stand. After all, there’s no I in team.

 


 

Laura Dilnot | @lauralougotlost | @lauralougotlost 

Laura is a Yorkshire gal living in Brixton. A PR by day she spends her weekends hanging out with her best pals, eating too many brunches, seeking out a dance floor and planning her next adventures home or abroad. She tries to write whenever the whim takes her hoping that it’ll help make sense of life.

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