It is interesting during this year of the Wuhan Plague to contemplate people’s reaction to it. Not the panic hoarding business – that is the common reaction at the start of any war, and is usually stopped by rationing.
I mean the social media reaction. The reaction of people who you know – not faceless strangers in a supermarket. People with whom you have had some past contact – however tenuous. I’m not a big collector of contacts in the Facebook sense, but there’s about 230+ I can identify. They rather fall into a set of categories this year – and it’s they who have sorted themselves out. Here’s the groups:
a. The people who post incessantly.
Heretofore they have been associated with Facebook games and promotions for home-selling goods – or for their children. In some cases they have been doing this for profit, and in others just to have some outside contact. I expect this behaviour will increase. If it helps them cope with self-isolation, this is probably a good thing. I certainly cannot fault someone who is proud of their family – after all, I show off my family of toy airplanes a lot.
b. The people who post mysteriously.
I’m not good with mysteries. I’m afraid their posts are largely bypassed. There may be gems there, but they remain buried.
c. The people who post religious messages.
I do not begrudge them these messages, as I realise that they are doing something to buoy their own spirits, but the tackier ones are a little embarrassing. Perhaps they reveal more of the inner workings of their mind than I care to know about.
I would post excerpts from Ton Paine’s ” Age Of Reason ” if ‘twould do any good…but they evidently draw their comfort from other thoughts, so I refrain.
d. The people who post memes and repeat messages from other people…for some political gain.
Here I start to look more critically at the poster. One or two of this sort of thing occasionally is probably a valid expression of freedom of speech – a good thing in Australia and other western countries. A novelty elsewhere, I daresay.
When the posting becomes repeated and overbearing, the poster takes on the character of political tyrant – in some cases it can reveal bigotry, bias, sycophancy, malice, and other dire characteristics. It can tie people to right-wing, left-wing, or criminal groups and make them seem to be a part of far worse things.
It is amazing – I’ve got people in my 230+ who hate Asians, Africans, Muslims, Jews, Americans, Catholics, Liberals, Conservatives, communists, capitalists, men, women, gays, lesbians, trans-genders, and possibly the Mr. Whippy man. There is surprisingly wide basis of hatred, though no-one applies it to everybody. I suspect many of posters are undergoing their struggles, but few are going to produce a two-part book about it…
e. The people who do not do the above. They share pictures of pubs and meals, dogs and cats, cars and artwork, historical postcards, fashions and clothing. These people I treasure.
There are more sub-categories but I leave that to the Univac* to sort out with the paper cards. Some card slots will fill up and I’ll read them. Some I’ll avoid. And just a few – a very few – I’ll quietly empty into the bin.
*Look it up, child. Look it up.