On January 31st, the day the disUK left the EU, I stuck my tongue in my cheek and posted on my Facebook author page, thought ‘what the heck,’ and boosted the post.

The post comprised an image of the cover art of my book and the headline “Brexit. Undone.” The cover art has an eye-grabbing image, the text, To See The Light Return, a Brexitopian novel, and my name. I sat back and watched to see what would happen.

I’ve done a few ads that had precisely zero impact. This was different, and I learned a few things.

  1. Brexiteers are alarmingly easily triggered. Always hope they are unarmed with actual weapons
  2. Having ‘novel’ in the post in no way guarantees anyone will understand you are referring to a work of fiction, and
  3. It is possible to be offended by the very idea that someone might write a fictional story about a scenario with which one does not agree, and
  4. One apparently requires a right to write, as in “What gives you the right …”
  5. People who don’t know you will have all sorts of opinions about you based on one thing they know about you, and feel quite relaxed about insulting you
  6. Other people who don’t know you will come to your defence
  7. Brexit is brilliant and no one need worry about a thing
  8. Facebook algorithms are hilariously flawed

During the 10 days or so that the post was being boosted I was ill with a cold. Much too meh to be bothered with monitoring the abuse, so I would check in every day or so to see that exchanges were taking place without the need for input from me, take a dip into the insults, switch it off and get back to being poorly.

I felt quite upset at times. I know I should have expected some flack as a result of what was, admittedly, clickbait. But I’m yuman. It was tempting to let rip in a series of ripostes to demonstrate my wit. But that would have felt like reinforcing what was already turning out to be a toxic thread, and y’know: Be the change.

So, rather than reacting online – beyond a Like when someone stuck up for the right to write or a Haha when someone wrote something particularly silly, like calling me a ‘traitor’ – I put some imagination and empathy into Inhabiting the mindset of the people I’d offended.

I ended up feeling sorry for my detractors. They have clearly been posting enough political content over the last three years that Facebook identified them as having an interest in a post about Brexit, and apparently feel that though they might have ‘won’ the argument they haven’t won the complete cultural dominance they voted for, and still feel threatened by folk with contrary ways.

Which is pretty scary, really. If the whole of the last three years has been about a self-serving political elite (those that weren’t ideologically anti-EU anyway) appeasing this one sector of the electorate, and they’re still not happy, what will it take? What will be given?

I know this blog would really annoy the people who derogatoried my post (that little neologism is for the one who derided my calling my job ‘noveller’). How very dare I.

And I confess that tickles me.

If you want to see the post – heck, you can insult me if you like – it’s here.

If you want to buy the book, it’s here.

Recovering post-modernist, independent author and climate activist. Author of To See The Light Return, a somewhat comic take on Brexit as it could be played out in a devolved Devon. Copies available direct - sophiegb@me.com

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