YOU may have heard the word “gammon” a lot so far this week. If you have you’re probably somewhere between wondering why and banging your head off a wall.

The term was coined around the time of the snap General Election last year by a children’s author, Ben Davis, although he didn’t realise it at the time. As his story goes, he was about half way into a bottle of Rioja when the hung parliament exit poll came through, and he tweeted: “Whatever happens, hopefully politicians will start listening to young ppl after this. This Great Wall of gammon has had its way long enough.”

He didn’t think too much more of it until recently, when people started calling him racist in howls of outrage. As is the way of social media, every now and again a word or a term, or a meme, catches on. It breaks outside of the bubble it was created in and dives into wider lexicon.

That’s what happened to gammon. What does it mean? It depends who you ask. For some, it’s a reference to privileged, middle-aged cry babies who flinch and scoff at the inequalities they help enable. For others, it’s a semi-racist hate label invented by the snowflake generation to smear their elders. By the time this column is published it could have taken on another meaning; it’s the can of worms opened up by identity politics. And if referencing a can of worms is rebranded tomorrow by the Twitterati as hidden bigotry towards people who can’t walk, I won’t be surprised. That’s the logic at work in gammongate, and you should never underestimate the internet’s ability to create a storm of outrage over absolutely nothing.

Gammon has become the latest rope in the tug of war of modern British politics. The right criticises the left for labelling people when it constantly complains about being labelled itself – even though labels are OK and very important when you’re self-identifying and demanding the world and his dog respect said self-identified labels.

Then, the left hits back at the right for its hypocrisy. One of the most vocal critics of gammongate online was South Belfast DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly, who tweeted: “I'm appalled by the term "gammon" now frequently entering the lexicon of so many (mainly on the left) & seemingly be accepted. This is a term based on skin colour & age – stereotyping by colour or age is wrong no matter what race, age or community. It is just wrong.”

Yes, that’s the same DUP whose elected officials have called homosexuality an “abomination” and which has repeatedly opposed same sex marriage – hardly a beacon of equality.

And back and forth it goes, like a game of ping pong. Accusation followed by counter accusation, followed by a social media war, followed by newspaper columns, followed by television news debates. The whole thing’s putting me off my gammon steak dinner.

So here’s my take, for what it’s worth: it’s not racist, it’s just stupid. And that’s it, really. I’m trying to muster the energy to have a groundbreaking contribution to make to the debate. I keep opening Google to see if I can research some obscure gammon facts that could rip this whole story open. I’m convinced that if I could just find one reference to a gammon emblem in some secret, underground, white-on-white racism society, I’d have a Pulitzer prize winner.

But instead, I’ve been distracted by multiple cups of tea, a biscuit, and an article about funny online memes.

Like, I suspect, most people in divided Britain, I just don’t care. What we have here are privileged, middle-aged white folks on the right having a rather enjoyable little tiff with those pesky privileged younger folk who are all caught up in that liberalism nonsense.

These stooshies become a hobby, and we’ve probably all indulged them at some point. It’s safe ground. It justifies all manner of grand polemics without really having to say anything all that meaningful. It’s a storm and it’ll blow over, but it was fun while it lasted.

I imagine victims of real, every day racism look on in exasperation. If we gave this much coverage to actual racist terms, we wouldn’t have time to talk about anything else.

When these little tit-for-tat ‘debates’ crop up, they don’t half stink of virtue signalling. The online battles that emerge from them are filled with people who treat equality issues like a badge that grants them entry to the tribe of the moment, no matter which side of equality they’re falling down on this week.

But, all of that said, I suppose it’s nice to be talking about something other than Brexit. I was beginning to forget there is any world, life or existence outside of it. I’ve seen and read so much about the single market and the customs union that I’ve been starting to suspect it’s a national hypnosis experiment.

So maybe that’s what gammongate is really all about. Everyone’s just a bit bored, and this livens things up without any big risk. I should probably be grateful that it’s shaken my Brexit head and reminded me that there’s a world out there, even if I am still banging it off a wall.