Despite its plusses there’s a huge concern about social media’s negative aspects, such as hate speech, fear mongering, spreading falsehoods and such-like.
New Zealand was represented at an International conference on this a few years back. They came up with no answers.
That said, one advantage of social media is in revealing how spectacularly stupid some people are. Here’s examples.
My item on this site explaining why our response to coronavirus was totally inappropriate flushed up an extraordinary positive response. That suggested large numbers of folk intuitively felt the lockdown is wrongheaded. I simply produced the evidence.
Nevertheless among the hundreds of endorsements critics emerged, all on specious grounds.
One, a coward hiding behind an anonymous website, reproduced verbatim what I wrote about Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel then wrote, “Bollocks. She said and did no such thing.”
Now that’s easy to do on social media but if this blowhard genuinely believes that then I invite him to contact me to arrange a meeting. Bring $100 in cash and I will bring $1million and it’s all his if he can show what I wrote is bollocks. He won’t come of course as he’ll first probably Google Priti and see I understated what I wrote. Pity he didn’t do so first.
This sort of thing takes me back to the NZ Party days when I regularly received anonymous murder threats in the mail. My no nonsense eldest daughter Frances, then “working” in my office, and contrary to my advice to ignore them, struck up a relationship with the Police and lo and behold, they actually traced two of these brave murder threateners.
They had common denominators. Both were life-long losers in their sixties, never married and living in boarding houses on government pensions. One in Palmerston North and another in Newtown, Wellington. Confronted they were such whimpering wrecks, the Police let them off with warnings. They’ll be dead now and most certainly unmourned but my, how they’d have loved the internet’s social media to express a bravado never present in their miserable pointless lives.
Another critic, Mark Armstrong, who at least had the courage of putting his name to it, for which I respect him, accused me in respect of the lockdown of being wise after the event. Why, he asked didn’t I write this three months ago. Well Mark, it’s a tough one but three months ago the lockdown absurdity hadn’t arisen. That said, on this site way back in February I did write a piece titled “Recession or Depression” about our future economic crisis and pending mass unemployment through loss of our principal export earner, namely tourism.
Still, I won’t brand Mark a screaming goose, albeit I’m helpless to stop others doing so.
Finally, yet again not reading properly what I wrote a “Gary” politely suggested I check out the Swedish death toll. Read what I wrote again Gary. I said “in a year or so” when a vaccine is discovered I expect Sweden will produce the best outcome by simply getting on with life. Essentially their approach is not to destroy the economy but cop the blows up front rather than spread them over a duration.
An open democracy works best with freely expressed opinions debating issues. But its short-comings is it also allows stupidity a voice, a sentiment frequently bemoaned by Hugh Rennie QC when he cops criticism over his flat earth advocacy, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence. As I reminded him a day ago when he was complaining about this, he can at least console himself with the certain assumption that he’ll have Jacinda on side. Alas, this was not well received, Hugh responding that he sought support from thinkers thus the PM’s open support would be a disastrous blow to his cause’s credibility. Sadly, he’s right on that score.