This column first appeared in the Examiner of May 17.
A novel by author John Niven called ‘The Second Coming’ was an irreverent look at exactly that.
One bit that made me laugh out loud (and there were many) was the statement that Moses had been called up to Mount Sinai to receive instructions and was given only one commandment: ‘Be Nice’.
He made the other nine up on the way down so people couldn’t say he’d been slacking!
When you think about it, we could probably junk every piece of complex legislation and simplify court proceedings enormously if we adopted that edict as law. ‘Steal from the shop? That’s not very nice.’ ‘Dodged paying your tax? Not nice at all!’
Social media isn’t nice much of the time.
Because I’m old I use Facebook (I’ve tried Tweeting and Instagramming but don’t see the point), as since my blood relatives are across it’s a fine way to stay in touch, with regular photos and videos of my grandchildren to enjoy (without the noise and mess).
The problems start when you try to engage online with strangers – the platform is full of angry, bitter people who patently have nothing better to do than get vexed and hurl abuse. And the internet has an infinite memory – last year I reposted an interview with Putin about the West being so weak and ‘woke’.
Roll forward six months and people (including the editor of this venerable organ) have criticised me for supporting a war criminal!
As an MHK I use Facebook quite a lot to see what people are exercised about and hopefully add to some online debates.
But it seems I’m now just a fat-cat politician voting myself pay rises, not caring about ordinary people, getting brown envelope bribes and breaking election promises left right and centre.
None of that is true, but when I correct these keyboard warriors I’m told ‘that’s no way for a politician to talk’.
My election manifesto revolved around common sense and accountability.
I tell the truth as I see it (possibly because I don’t have the memory to be a convincing liar) and I genuinely enjoy talking to people with different viewpoints.
In Tynwald I can be totally opposed to what a member is saying, but we can sit down and discuss the issue rationally, hopefully find some common ground and if not, agree to disagree.
Take the alleged climate emergency – most of my colleagues think it’s a vitally important issue worth spending tens of millions of pounds a year on – me, not so much!
The Isle of Man has much more pressing problems to deal with like a recession, global unrest and energy security.
The younger members (which is the vast majority!) treat me like a mad uncle, ranting away in the kitchen as the party continues in the living room.
That’s fine by me – it’s democracy at work. If only that same respect and consideration applied to social media.
Here endeth the lesson for today with the plea that we all abide by the first (and only) real commandment: ‘Be Nice.’