Rowan Coleman: how to be more loving

'It is stupid, stupid, thick-as-two-short-planks hate'

'It is stupid, stupid, thick-as-two-short-planks hate' - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Best-selling novelist and mum-of-four Rowan Coleman shares the chaos and comedy of her life in Hertfordshire in The Coleman Column

Let’s talk about love. After all February is the time of year we pay tribute to romantic love and buy something heart-shaped for those we’ve got the hots for. And perhaps more than any other time (to quote Dionne Warwick) what the world needs now is love, sweet love, right?

Sometimes it’s very hard to see love anywhere, and impossible to feel it. I’ve just begun a three-month social media ban, because while I simultaneously love it all a bit too much for a novelist with a deadline, I also really hate it. I hate seeing virtual strangers dropping hate bombs into timelines and either rubbing their hands with glee as they watch the Internet explode, or moving on oblivious to the damage they’ve caused.

It’s that kind of casual hate that’s brought us to the point in history where one world leader baits another about the size of his nuclear button. Where people see red and refuse to imagine another point of view if you mention the word ‘Brexit’.

It’s not even a thoughtful kind of hate. It’s reactionary. It’s blind and it’s stupid. There is no other accurate description for such behaviour. It is stupid, stupid, thick-as-two-short-planks hate. And the worst of it is, is that with every nasty, casual, thought-free comment that we cast out into cyberspace, the more we fray at the edges of humanity, of community and of common decency.

You get thoughtless love too of course. I once spent a good deal of my young life in love with Jason Orange from Take That based solely on his haircut. But the difference is thoughtless love rarely hurts anyone else.

Thoughtless hate online doesn’t only hurt that faceless stranger, it hurts the world.

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Do I sound melodramatic? Well good, because maybe it’s only melodrama that will do in these days of noisy shouting each other down.

So, let’s talk about love: love for life, love for human rights, love for freedom and diversity, love for our fellow human beings, love for this rare and precious planet we live on, and all the miraculous life it teems with, that hasn’t done anything to deserve us.

This February I’m urging you to send a Valentine’s message to the world.

Instead of shouting, listen.

Instead of reacting, think.

Instead of hating, LOVE.

Do all three of those things, and encourage everyone you know to do the same and you never know, you might just be your own local superhero, doing your part to save the world.