Pixabay image

Social media leaves anyone with an opinion vulnerable to scorched-earth attacks

Demonize and dog-pile. If you disagree with me, you are not only wrong, you are evil. The enemy…

homelessphoto

So let it be written…

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer gets mobbed because he refuses to wear “the ribbon?”

He’s participating in an AIDS walk, but refuses to wear a red AIDS ribbon in defiance of “ribbon bullies” who insist that he do so. He’s told he “has to,” to which he replies, “See, that’s why I don’t want to.”

Kramer’s decision is not well-received. During the walk, he gets called out by the crowd. “Who?! Who doesn’t want to wear the ribbon?” a furious participant demands. In the end, Kramer tries to scramble up a fire ladder to escape, but an angry mob yanks him down.

Sound familiar? It can serve as a metaphor for the tyranny we witness on social media, daily and even hourly. Demonize and dog-pile, demonize and dog-pile. If you disagree with me, you are not only wrong, you are evil. The enemy.

As Frank Zappa said, “There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

That Seinfeld episode first aired on Dec. 7, 1995. Man, we have slid a long way down the garbage chute since then.

Don’t get me wrong, bonafide bad guys should get their comeuppance and social media can play a justified role in this. But so many people, decent ones among them, can find themselves in Kramer’s shoes these days, targeted for social or even financial mayhem for not obsequiously toeing this or that line or cause. Tried, drawn and quartered in the kangaroo courts of Facebook and Twitter.

People who simply have an opinion to express can fall victim to scorched-earth attacks launched by galactically uptight numbskulls who are either mortally challenged by their target’s philosophical leanings, real or perceived, or virulently outraged by any hesitation to embrace with reverence their personal views as sacrosanct, as the only acceptable one true path.

The result is people operating on guard, and sincerity, freedom of association, and expression of ideas suffer in the process.

These days anyone can be a target on social media, at any time, for what they say, where they go, who they see, or even none of the above. No second chances. Some people smell blood and see opportunity. All it takes is an unhinged hysterical personality armed with a smartphone and social media account to ruin one’s day, or worse, if their online campaign generates enough bandwagon tribalism and condemnation to bring real pressure to bear.

To the self-righteous and self-centred among us who wield social media as their own personal boom-stick, principles like tolerance, forbearance, magnanimity and even mercy are antiquated unless applied directly and liberally to themselves, and even then the application is mistaken as justice.

The tribalism and toxicity that thrives on social media is not only worrisome, it represents a genuine threat to individual liberty as long as enough people eagerly jump on attack bandwagons without paying due tribute to the golden rule.

Consider the wisdom of Victorian novelist George Eliot, who said “The responsibility of tolerance lies with those who have the wider vision.”

This quote, too, can be found on the Internet. Its practice, not so much.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

Seinfeld Kramer Facebook Twitter social media Geroge Eliot Frank ZappaSo let it be done opinion columnTom Zytaruk

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Suspected social media accounts of accused Kelowna hamster torturer emerge

Leighton Allen Labute, 20, is facing six charges related to his alleged torture of a hamster

Paid parking in Kelowna to resume in stages

Paid parking back June 1 around Kelowna General Hospital and some downtown parking, further restrictions lifted June 15

COVID-19 closes Okanagan College summer camps

Popular Camp OC put on shelf from Salmon Arm to Penticton, and Revelstoke, until 2021

Charles Horvath still missing after 31 years

Horvath went missing in Kelowna in 1989

Body of missing woman found in Kelowna

Kelly Joy Zuchotzki was last seen on May 24

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Camper explodes near Princeton along Similkameen River

One man was sent to Princeton Hospital May 23 after a camper… Continue reading

Ruling change scuttles Okanagan-Shuswap grad plans

Number of secondary schools had planned to use Enderby’s Starlight Drive-In venue for ceremonies

Public asked to leave Okanagan bear and cubs alone

Sow and babes spent the day up a tree Saturday in a busy area

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Most Read