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What Your Reaction to Thatcher's Death Says About You

10/04/2013 11:00 BST | Updated 09/06/2013 10:12 BST

One of the nicest things about having deleted my Facebook account is that I don't have to read the emotional outpourings that are no doubt sweeping across my now non-existent newsfeed. In the past, I would have put my cyber-guns on to 'shoot to kill' and begun typing, snarling, ranting and raving at all those naive, silly, little socialists who detest her so religiously.

This time I'm keeping quiet. Why should I get involved in such unpleasant arguments about a woman who just died? Arguing with someone about Thatcher is like trying to persuade the person you're shouting at that actually they do like marmite and if they pretend they don't, then they're just narrow-minded and stupid. Both the haters and lovers of Thatcher are guilty of this approach.

Far more interesting is what an individual's reaction to her death says about that individual. Hatred and adoration are two extremes of the same emotional spectrum, but where do they come from? Neither emotion does much good in the long run, except irritate and annoy the opposing side. Just glance at Twitter and you see a whirlpool of bile, vitriol and burning lava, ironically not about Thatcher herself. Instead the comments from both sides are designed to cause outrage and offence. They're nothing to do with Thatcher the person.

In this sense, Thatcher the person has long since vanished. The Thatcher who now exists is a symbol, an emblem. She is alternately arch-priestess of the libertarian free marketers. She is chief hater of gays and persecutor of single mothers. She is evil personified. She is freedom personified. She is the sledgehammer that brought down the Berlin Wall. She is responsible for the economic disaster currently unfolding. In a nutshell, she is anything you want her to be.

For me, she was an impressive individual, in that she made an impression on those around her. She did some good things and she did some bad things, as most individuals do during their lifetimes. I am not going to worship her as some sort of libertarian demi-goddess and I am not going to spit fire at her more obnoxious policies towards gays. I neither love her nor hate her.

Thatcher the symbol is not the same as Thatcher the person. It is of course easier to hate a person or thing than it is an idea, process or period. But that's why I find it slightly unpleasant reading comments celebrating her death. We all die in the end. Why gloat and guffaw over this fact?

In recent months, I have come to realise that my hatred towards individuals says more about my own insecurities than it does about the person I'm hating. I can usually identify something in myself that elicits a response, which tends to characterised by arrogance, prejudice or pride. But ultimately I waste time being angry. It achieves absolutely nothing but more anger, both in myself and those around me.

So instead of screaming, ranting and raving, perhaps those individuals on both sides of the fence should redirect their passion into something more productive. If you don't like what she represented, then come up with some good reasons. And for those who do like her, try to accept that people are entitled to their own beliefs. The way to change people's minds is best achieved by sitting down and discussing, not telling them they are idiotic bigots.