I’m getting a little bit pissed off with these wanky little images which currently infest social media. You know the sort. Here’s an example, courtesy of popular Facebook page The Anti-Media:
This one is typical in that it doesn’t bother with full sentences. I can see why. To write an idea down fully is to expose it to scrutiny. The sort which might reveal these particular ideas to be at best trivial and at worst ball-bustingly cretinous. The description attached to this image is even more concise. It simply declares: ‘Hypocrisy.’
Look, I’m all for economy of words – but only in order to heighten clarity, not to reduce it. You’ll notice that in this case the subject has been omitted:
x colonises the whole world
x complains about immigrants
Solve for x (20 marks)
The reader can supply whatever ‘x’ they like, but I’m guessing we’re supposed to be clued-in by the Union Jack and a map of the world describing the historical extent of the British Empire. By writing in this way, everyone can be an erudite political thinker, with whom right-thinking people overwhelmingly agree. After all, if we just leave out the parts of an equivalence which prove it to be false, then there’s no reason to suppose it isn’t true. This is the internet equivalent of saying “women, eh?” and sipping your pale ale with an air of affected sagacity.
Who or what, pray, is guilty of both colonising half the world and complaining about immigrants? Is it “Britain”? Is it “The British Empire”? Is it “the British people”? Is it Dave Smith, a 34-year old plumber from High Wycombe, who thinks that immigration levels are just too damn high? How exactly do you square that with the time you partitioned India, Dave, you callous bastard?
What troubles me is the way this image invites us to lump vast swathes of people into one indivisible block. A human temptation, and an idiotic one. If you’d like an example of exactly why it’s idiotic, then you might consider the matter of trifle. Some British people like trifle; others detest it. Does that make British people guilty of hypocrisy on the matter of trifle? Do we like fucking trifle or don’t we?
My knowledge of history isn’t spectacular, but I see that this map was drawn prior to the American war for independence in the late eighteenth century. So not only are we supposed to reach concordance with one another, but with ancestors who have been dead for more than two-hundred years. Presumably this also makes us all giant hypocrites on the matter of slavery, gladiatorial combat and the shape of the fucking planet Earth.
I can think of one people who might be able to reach such a consensus, by the way – the fucking Borg. Say what you like about them – they aren’t hypocrites.
Until the next time,