Regardless of which side of the EU fence you resided on, or, indeed, if you sat firmly astride said metaphorical barrier, the fallout from Thursday’s vote is still reverberating around the world.
The result is in. No, not that we are leaving the EU but that we, as a nation, are, almost precisely, split down the middle. Culturally speaking we are a country that is divided in two.
The social conversation surrounding Brexit is ugly. It’s unregulated. It’s lawless and largely anonymous. We’re angry and the best place for us to direct that anger, it would seem, is online. We’re defending ourselves either way. Defending our right to choose, or publicly distancing ourselves from what we feel is a colossal mistake.
Taking little solace in our democratic privilege, we are angry because of what we feel it tells us about the person we’re married to, or best friends with, or the person with whom we share an office. We are angry because we can’t fool ourselves that what we voted wasn’t emotionally charged – and that was often ugly in itself. But mostly we are angry because we have no control over what comes next. These are the messages in the midst of so many memes, tweets and posts being shared over and over around the world.
But this comes as no great surprise to those who study the trends of social media. Researchers of social networking explain that anger is the most influential emotion for messages spreading across social media and the truth is, for the remain voters, anger is an important part of the EU departure process – grief.
Denial – No, this can’t be happening
Anger – What the hell has just happened?!
Bargaining – Let’s start a petition
Depression – The loss of certainty
Acceptance – Making the best of it
Even though it was the Brexiters who were victorious last week, the anger is universal. They have been ridiculed and belittled, accused of racism and bigotry, whilst, arguably for some, forced to make an unwelcome choice, by their own government. And there’s fear. Because change is coming now – and they voted it for it – so there’s no turning back.
There was always going to be blame. And fear. And frustration, but we had already lost. Because ultimately there would be no winner, whichever way the chips fell. It’s hard to remember a modern time where the choice we had to make so vehemently pitted us against each other. Make no mistake, the vote divided us firmly into our tribes. We were segregated. In vs Out. England vs Europe. Us against Them. Ironically, we were all looking for change, but the problem was no-one really knew what that change should look like.
For now, tensions are high, the line has been drawn and we all know which side we’re on. This unregulated and lawless social community’s providing both the fuel to our angry fire and the convenient outlet to let it loose. Whilst anger both unites and divides us for now, the conversation is an important part of processing the necessary stages of EU grief.
And only through this, can we begin to put the pieces back together.