The Twittersphere has been vocal on the latest must-know topic: Ukraine.

In the age of social media, it is natural to find a wide variety of opinions on any given topic. Twitter especially, has turned us into armchair experts on any given subject under the sun. Those who have spent the last two years moonlighting as consultant immunologists have seemingly pirouetted, with all the grace of a hippopotamus squeezing down the aisle of an aeroplane, to being high-level diplomats and political science experts.

In some ways, it is understandable that as a species, we wish to contextualise the horrors we see around us through the prism of our own circumstances. And, there is also a time to listen to people who are actual experts in their respective fields. Unfortunately, as was noted by Michael Gove during the 2016 Brexit referendum, ‘the people of this country have had enough of experts’. 


Trading Ignorances

In a society where ignorance appears to be currency, it is not surprising that those who tend to be the most vocal often appear to have the least knowledge in subjects on which they pontificate.

As eluded to in the beginning, Twitter has become the rock beneath which many specimens of brain worms can be found. It won’t come as a surprise that a platform with a 280 character limit may not be the best place for nuanced discussion. However, instead of at least attempting to do so, some people have made it clear that they would much rather fling concentrated stupidities around. For instance, instead of holding the British government to account, most notably the Home Office, for its abhorrent and negligent approach to successive refugee crises, multiple accounts with large followings — mainly thanks to the #FBPE community (Follow Back, Pro Europe) — have used their platform to pin the blame for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Brexit, of all things. This, despite the fact that Putin’s ambitious ideals have been on show for some time, with a failed invasion of Georgia in 2008, and the infamous annexation of Crimea in 2014. But in the illogical worldview of the Twitterati, none of this would be happening if Britain had not voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Tweeting with Intelligence

At this point, it is important to stress how vital clear and informed channels of communication are. To that end, I say that we should be exceptionally careful as to what we post on social media. Rather than impose our opinions on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we should all take a step back and allow those actually affected by it to have the floor. This way, we can learn what needs we can meet as a community, as opposed to performatively superimposing our opinions on those who have seen their homes and lives disappear, and quite frankly, couldn’t care less whether the UK is in or out of the EU.

The Home Office’s callous approach to migration has long been evident. The latest volte-face over Ukrainian refugees is, therefore, no surprise. Priti Patel’s refusal to substantiate her claim that there is indeed a visa centre in Calais for those wishing to come from Ukraine is just one example of this ongoing callousness. Routinely closing down legal pathways for migrants and refugees has been a goal of consecutive home secretaries, as part of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy enacted under Theresa May. Aided and abetted by the media, human lives have been harmed as politicians sought to scapegoat the most wretched in order to win votes. In turn, this diatribe of hatred and division helped create the now common response: ‘We’re too full’ or ‘We don’t know who we’re letting in’. In truth, we’ve swallowed the lie wholeheartedly.

Where then does all this leave us? Quite simply, with a choice. Do we, in the privileged position we find ourselves, do what we can to alleviate as much of the fear and heartbreak as we can? Or do we scramble to the ramparts to watch the drawbridge being withdrawn when the needs of those, not just from Ukraine, but also Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen (to name a few) are at their greatest? Ultimately, it does not come down to political stripe, just whether or not people are willing to stand up and use their voice to advocate for those who come up against the behemoth of red tape known as the British Home Office.

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