I have a friend who lives in London. He’s originally Irish, and he’s married to a lovely German woman. They just had their second child, they bought a house, he has a great job. Things are finally looking up, getting on track.
They might have to move to Germany now, because his wife may not legally be able to stay in England.
I have a friend who lives in Wales. She’s originally American but just got her UK citizenship. She’s married to a New Zealander academic and they have two children who are attending the local Welsh-speaking school. She loves Cardiff, their friends there, the walkable city, being European, and her new job at an architectural firm. She just qualified as an architect last year, having totally switched careers after starting a family and moving across the world.
She and her husband might have to move internationally yet again, because though they can both legally stay in the UK, the probably inevitable recession may well sound the death knell on both their jobs. This is not the UK she just jumped through all those hoops to become part of. Her local Polish shop just put up a sign saying they’re closing.
I have a friend who lives in Northern Ireland. She fears the return of border patrols, a future that harks back to the past her country has come so far from and tried so hard to move on from, when a drive down the road meant bringing your passport and being looked over by the army. She fears, as do many Irish, a return to sectarian violence where peace is so fragile, so recent, and so prized.
I have a friend who lives in Scotland. Seventy-five percent of her city voted to remain in the EU, but now they’re out. She works as a doctor for the NHS. The Leave campaign told the people of the UK that if they left the EU there would be 350 million pounds a week to spend on healthcare, but now they’re saying that’s not really the case.
I have a friend who lives in Dublin. (I have a lot of friends who live in Dublin, but she’s one of them.) Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the UK and is a member of the EU. The Irish economy, however, can’t fail to be badly affected by this decision. She worries for the business she just started last year, because it probably won’t survive a recession.
These are the people in my social media bubble. Because of the friends I have, the friends they have, the newspapers I choose to read, the TV stations and radio stations I listen to or don’t, these people’s opinions are the ones I see and hear. They are real people whose lives are being directly affected in scary and very concrete ways by a decision that was made by others, who often don’t seem to have understood what they were doing.
Yesterday I got tired of commenting on the Facebook pages of so many friends who were sad, devastated, worried, disbelieving, scared, and angry. So I just changed my profile photo and left it at that.