I find myself in that situation more and more in social encounters — skirting round questions in order to avoid an embarrassing argument only to find I’ve caused more awkwardness. It happens not just when I’m asked what I’ve done in the privacy of the polling booth. People increasingly seem to expect me to have firm convictions on almost every story in the news, then get upset not because I voice strong opinions, but precisely because I don’t.
Sites such as Twitter and Facebook have turned into platforms where you can make it quite clear to everybody that you are not a racist, a sexist or a homophobe. Or if you don’t care about being considered a bigot, you can always do the opposite and make a name as a raucous controversialist. This isn’t for the faint of heart. Reputations have been trashed in fewer than 140 characters and once you become known for your outlying views, it’s hard to retreat to more sensible ground. Often it’s best to say nothing.