On the 10th November, still feeling outraged by the Trump victory, I posted a letter on Facebook written by Aaron Sorkin to his wife and 15 year-old daughter for Vanity Fair. It started like this:
“Sorkin Girls, Well the world changed late last night in a way I couldn’t protect us from. That’s a terrible feeling for a father. I won’t sugarcoat it—this is truly horrible. It’s hardly the first time my candidate didn’t win (in fact it’s the sixth time) but it is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has.”
For me, Facebook is a place where I share articles, photos, experiences, etc. with friends and family from around the world. I don’t have work colleagues or clients on Facebook unless they are good friends outside of work (or former colleagues) – I use LinkedIn for business contacts.
The first comment was from a good friend who used to work in the City and is now running a charity. He thought it was ‘Outstanding’. I smiled to myself as my own view had been reinforced. Later that day, I was taken aback to see that the next comment started ‘This man has a very simplistic view of the world — and yet he believes he's incredibly sophisticated.’ It went on and finished with ‘Sorry Brenda but thats my opinion. Boy do we see things differently.’ I was stunned. This was a long-standing family friend with whom I had grown up. Our parents have been best friends since they were in their late teens. I’m ashamed to admit that my initial thoughts were ‘What’s wrong with him? I thought he was smarter than that. He has a strong wife and daughter – how could he possibly think that? Should I ‘unfriend’ him as he clearly sees the world very differently than I do?’ Then I thought again and I realised that I was being foolish. He’s a good man and a loyal friend who hasn’t changed since before writing his comment. In fact, the reason that I was completely shocked by the UK referendum result and the Trump victory was that I didn’t have enough diversity of thought and opinion in my social circles. I spent a disproportionate amount of time discussing both with people who violently agreed with and reinforced my own views rather than truly listening to other views. I typed the following comment in reply to my friend ‘Luckily I have a very diverse group of Facebook friends and therefore I benefit from diversity of thought and opinion on this one!’ He ‘Liked’ my comment.