‘I’m sorry Jeremy, I’m going to have to de-friend you now!’ spat a friend’s post in Facebook, drawing the curtain on a two-decade friendship that began during my last undergraduate year at university.
That was the parting shot to an un-paragraphed, exclamation mark-laden, three hundred word tirade which excoriated me for openly supporting the Abbott Government’s economic and immigration policies on Facebook. Any family member or another friend with whom I’m connected on Facebook who stumbled across this post would have thought Tony Abbott the devil himself, and me a horned and fanged demon in his service!
For the sin of being an openly professing conservative, I’d been ‘de-friended,’ and had my character, judgment and good name smeared on a social media platform I share with mostly family members and a few friends.
Despite my social and political persuasion, I have a surprising number of friends from the inner city, Age-reading, Greens-voting, café latte set who work in government or quasi-government organisations.
Social media is a favourite playpen of theirs, and there is no end to the constant stream of posts they share or re-tweet from Greens MPs and others attacking the Abbott Government, or promoting vague, feel good and sometimes outrageous climate change initiatives.
For my part, I take great delight in countering all this green-tinged mumbo-jumbo with dour posts from Joe Hockey about budget repair or bracing social policy missives from MPs these friends would consider beyond the pale, such as Victorian upper house member Bernie Finn.
Until now, everyone on either side of the inner-city green/ suburban conservative ideological divide had played along in good humour.
My former friend might have originated from good, semi-rural farming stock, but has since moved decisively into the inner city café latte set, living in the Greens heartland surrounding Melbourne University and working for a federal government public health bureaucracy. The more she embraced this circle, the more social gatherings became conspicuously feminist and ‘sustainable.’
We weren’t allowed to buy new presents for her children’s birthdays – only handmade or recycled gifts passed muster.
Worse still, my wife, a sensitive sort, was excluded and alienated from conversations at these same parties by some other members of this new circle for not being feminist and green enough. Only our children, blissfully unaware of all this nonsense, got on with the altogether more important task of having a good time, running around, singing and playing.
Now before anyone reading this with a more earthy nature says it serves me right for not being more discerning with my choice of friends, and before more socially liberal types recommend I lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commissioner (I have a right not to be offended, don’t I?), I’d like to state that I didn’t write this seeking sympathy or a box of Kleenex.
I write this as a warning to anyone having to put up with any Age-reading, Greens-voting types over the summer holidays. I also wrote this as a warning to Labor Party types wondering how they managed to win only seven seats in their own right at the last federal election, and had to rely mostly on Greens preferences for another forty-eight.
Take no prisoners – Green-tinged, politically-correct poseurs will never concede the value of practical, down-to-earth beliefs which have stood the test of time while they bask in the warmth of Gaia’s summery gaze. Have a bit of fun – don’t be afraid to highlight their silliness; such as Senator Larissa Waters’ support for everyone to ‘go with the flow’ and pee in the shower to save on flushing water, or her fatuous call to stop boys and girls playing with boys’ and girls’ toys. Not only will that put them back in their box, it will probably get a few laughs out of those who believe you shouldn’t talk about religion or politics at parties.
But mostly, have a Happy New Year with those who want to have one with you!