It’s a topic that comes up all the time, on Twitter, the radio or at the dinner table: can you truly be friends with someone on the other end of the political spectrum to you? I think it’s important to be friends with people who are different to you, though I struggle to be friends with people who fundamentally disagree with the things I believe in.
But what about friends who just don’t care?
I definitely make it hard for myself to find friends who are quite as invested as I am. My job means I have to be up to date with current affairs, but I’ve been an avid news reader/Twitter scroller for as long as I can remember. Every time I turn the TV on it seems to be on Parliament Live (wish I could say I was joking here).
One of my closest friends didn’t vote in the referendum. Another only knows what the front page of the Metro can tell her. But they’re fine. I’m definitely not doing any better for knowing the name of everyone in Cabinet – you could argue I might be marginally happier if I was completely blind to the impact of politics.
So why does it bother me so much? Well first, it makes it really hard to have a real conversation with my friends. Trying to explain why I’ve had a long day at work comes a lot of background rambling about why things are the way they are. I also worry, a lot, that people think I’m exaggerating when I talk about how important my work is.
The second, and less selfish, reason is that we’re young! Before I could vote, I remember reading that young people don’t vote and their apparent lack of interest gives politicians a reason to exclude them further – if the youth don’t care about politics, why should politics care for the youth?’ kinda thing. And it’s not just being a young person. I’m a woman, I’m disabled, I grew up on a council estate.
My voice matters, as do the voices of all of my friends.
You can’t force this kind of conversation on people. Often, it’s a lot less interesting than talking about Luke’s party, and whether Ella broke up with her boyfriend. But where I can, I want to talk to my friends about what’s going on, why it’ll impact their lives and why they should listen. I don’t expect to make activists of any of my pals just yet but the least I can do is talk.