We all like to kid ourselves that because we have a million friends on Facebook, we really are sociable. But that’s sociability only on our terms. Outside of our virtual bubble we don’t really like people that aren’t like us. Which is a shame really, because just like our guidance teachers told us, we are all unique. David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and Ed Miliband’s ‘One Nation’ make us wince because we know they’d just mean we’d have to be nice to people we don’t really want to rub shoulders with. Literally.
Turns out that despite our technological advances, we haven’t actually progressed very much as a society. We still view the brick walls of our homes around us as sanctified, and we certainly don’t think the government should try and do anything to change that.
If radio phone-ins are anything to go by (and I’m really hoping they’re not), people don’t generally like or trust other people outwith their family and immediate social groups. This is a bit of a problem, because quite a few of the ideas unveiled at the Conservative party conference last week involve actually being able to live in a society with other human beings.
We live in constant fear of ‘other people’, assuming that we and our friends form a tiny minority of safe people. We think it’s only right that Chris Grayling MP should give us greater burglar-bashing rights. I don’t know when our society became quite so every-man-for-himself (probably around about the same time as the big bang, let’s face it), but we’ve spent so many generations teaching our children not to trust other people that we don’t believe anybody normal would ever consider the thoughts of others.
Council-house tenants in the conservative-led borough of Crawley are horrified at the idea that they might have to lodge homeless people. Some claim that they don’t think they could ensure their childrens’ safety if there were homeless people about. Which is a just a little bit of a generalisation, isn’t it? But homelessness hasn’t been properly targeted by the PC brigade yet, so it’s still kind of socially acceptable to think that all homeless people are addicts of some kind, that they have only themselves to blame for their situation.
Our gut reaction to proposed changes to planning laws? Everyone will build huge, concrete bunkers over our gardens. They’ll sit staring at us and all of the people-like-us through their new windows that look directly into our bathrooms. Obviously the overhang from their extension will be so huge that we will end up living in perpetual darkness, so all we’ll be able to see of our tyrannical neighbour is their eyes levitating in the dark. Only an idiot could think that somebody who fancied extending their house so their elderly granny could move in wouldn’t go ahead with it when they realised that it would have an impact on their neighbours.