language, modern problems, psychology, rants

A profoundly unhelpful comment…

Last night, I happened to notice that Carole King (or someone on her social media team) posted a picture of herself donning a turquoise colored face mask. She had typed “Just wear the mask” “#MaskUp” on her post. Many people were praising her for encouraging people to wear masks. I decided to hide her post because I’m tired of the constant social media face mask reminders and nagging from people. I mostly stay at home, but I do cooperate with the mask rules when I’m around other people. I neither want nor need the reminder to “#MaskUp”. If I want to be nagged, I’ll call my mother (although my mom, as a general rule, isn’t the type to nag).

However, just because I can’t help myself, I decided to read a few comments before I hid the post.

As to be expected, some people were posting that they can’t or won’t wear masks. I noticed that lots of people were arguing with them. I’ve written before that I don’t think arguing with these people does a lot of good, even though I expect to see them do it. I suppose it’s human nature. But one guy took it a step further. For each person who was not championing the idea that face masks will save us from doom, he posted “RIP”. On a couple of people’s posts, he added something along the lines of “and we’ll dance on your grave when you’re dead!”

After reading that same hateful comment from the same guy several times, I finally left one of my own. I posted, “What a profoundly unhelpful comment.”

I think wishing sickness and destruction on people is childish, stupid, and short-sighted. You think someone deserves death for not wearing a mask? Well, I think you’re an asshole for spreading hate and wishing the virus on another person. The virus is spreading just fine without your help. You don’t need to wish for it to affect more people than it already does. Every person who gets infected can potentially infect many other people… people who are completely innocent. It’s not productive to hope that someone who doesn’t cooperate gets sick and dies. I think it’s much more productive to hope that we can come up with a treatment, cure, or protocol that makes the masks unnecessary.

I do not, for the life of me, understand people who try to get cooperation by wishing bad things on other people. How is it helpful to wish illness and death on someone just because they don’t want to wear a face mask? Even if someone doesn’t wear a mask simply because they’re a selfish jerk, I wouldn’t want to wish illness and death on them. Their illness and death would certainly affect blameless people. Everyone from the healthcare professionals who must take care of them, to the people to have to handle their remains, to their friends, loved ones, and co-workers would be affected, along with any other person who happens to be nearby when they are infected with the virus. Those people would all suffer, to some extent, because someone got the virus, got sick, and died. But people who wish death on the uncooperative never seem to think about that part of the equation.

I get that people are frustrated and angry, but why in the hell would you want the virus to spread? Even if it’s to someone you think “deserves it” for not doing as they’re told?

Of course, this example is specifically about the coronavirus, but it can be applied to most other situations, too. Being mean to people isn’t likely to make them want to cooperate with you. Wishing death on someone and being hateful to them is more likely to make them hate you right back, rather than inspire an attitude of solidarity. If your goal is to change someone’s behavior, you have to make changing the behavior appealing. Posting #RIP to them is just unkind, and it does nothing to make things better.

Someone I knew in high school posted a comment to my thoughts on this issue. This person is now a lawyer. I met her when we took speech (public speaking) class together. She always impressed me as a very bright, empathetic, and kind person. I remember my ex bestie didn’t like her, though, because she was only at our school for a year and yet was ranked third in our class. Ex bestie was ranked fourth, hence the burning resentment (and likely jealousy).

My high school acquaintance wrote that the “gotcha” attitude has gotten way out of hand and has affected freedom of thought and freedom of expression. I thought that was an interesting comment, especially since I know she’s a lawyer and she’s always been very intelligent. Even if you think someone is wrong, it’s probably worth hearing what they have to say. At the very least, you should hear the arguments against something, so you can come up with a rebuttal. But if you just dismiss someone and wish they’d drop dead, you haven’t really learned anything and it’s likely that you’ve strengthened their resolve. It’s just a really antisocial attitude to take. It doesn’t help anything. In fact, it makes things worse.

Recently, I was hanging out on RfM and encountered several regular posters who often behave like bullies. A couple of the posters are females. Both are clearly bright people, and one is supposedly a brilliant attorney, but they both have a habit of shouting down anyone who doesn’t agree with them. One of the posters actually seeks out certain people she doesn’t like and leaves hostile, bullying comments. Granted, sometimes the people she targets deserve some derision, but it’s almost like it’s a sport for her. She gets to the point at which she doesn’t consider anything the other person writes. It’s all negative all the time– and she insults, belittles, and bullies them. I’m not yet one of her targets, yet even I find her constant badgering tiresome and unproductive. I know she’s intelligent and she might even be a nice person, but she comes across as overbearing and obnoxious.

I don’t think that insulting people and wishing bad things for them is a very good strategy, especially if they’re perfect strangers. I’m not impressed with people who claim to be very smart, but don’t consider other perspectives. It seems to me that someone who argues for a living would want to hear what others have to say, consider their points, and then come up with a counter argument. Moreover, if you value freedom– especially of speech and expression– then you should value and respect it for everyone, even those with whom you disagree.

In any case, I strongly disagree with posting RIP to people who are against wearing face masks, although I guess the person has the “right” to post that. I don’t think it’s helpful to wish death on most people, although I will agree that some people might “need killing”. But I usually confine my feelings about people “needing killing” to those who have deliberately and maliciously done something horribly wrong. Refusing to wear a face mask has not been a dangerous thing for that long. It takes time for people to change their opinions and habits. Yes, it’s been five months already, but that’s not very long in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think the constant nagging and shaming helps, although I can understand why people feel compelled to do it.

Coronavirus is going to kill a lot more people. Most of them won’t “deserve” death. Death, unfortunately, is part of living. It’s something that happens to everyone. Hoping someone gets very sick and dies a horrible death just because they don’t want to wear a face mask is petty, cruel, and makes you no better than the most disrespectful and egregious face mask protester. It serves absolutely zero purpose and makes things worse than they need to be. Just my opinion.