On online conflict (or not)

If there’s one thing that social media has done, it’s allowed a voice to the voiceless. And while that might seem like a good thing (and in some cases is a good thing), in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

Take the anti-vaxxers, for example. I mentioned this last week: their online presence is every bit as big and organised as real medical professionals. And for a lot of people (who choose not to actually think), that means that their views are equally valid. You and I, each blessed with a functioning brain, can quite clearly see the difference between the two parties, and make up our own minds based on logic and information. Others, however, will take whatever they read first as gospel, no matter who happens to have said it, and that’s a real issue.

The other benefit/problem of this new found freedom of discourse is that you find yourself forced to continually interact with people that you usually wouldn’t choose to “in real life”, simply because you find yourselves on the same Whatsapp group because they bought a house 300m from yours or some such.

This could be incredibly enriching experience – an opportunity to see things through others’ eyes. However, in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

And of course that swings both ways – they probably really don’t want anything to do with you either. And yet here we all are, each drawn together outside our comfort zones, wearing forced smiles and spouting false platitudes in order that we don’t get booted off the group in question and thus miss some vital piece of local information. Is it worth it? Of course it is – if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be on the group.

I don’t mind admitting that there are certain individuals on some social media groups who – for me (and others) – have gained “a reputation”. And not in a good way. You know what’s likely to be coming from them (because you’ve seen it a million times before), and you know that you’re not going to like it. Equally, I might be (indeed, I probably am) one of them to other people, simply because they don’t like what I say any more than I like what they say. We really wouldn’t last as friends. With good reason.

I don’t suffer fools gladly (because again, “in real life”, I don’t have to), but I really do try not to engage. I’ve got near endless patience and a wonderful ability to zone out and ignore most anything that annoys me. I have had plenty of practice of sitting on my hands and not responding to idiots people on twitter, and I’ve worked out that I don’t have to respond, even when someone shares something so utterly nonsensical that it rattles my spidey-senses.

But jeez. They walk among us. And on the internet, it’s likely that their voices are every bit of loud as ours. Sad and terrifying.

Respiratory illness

Your daily reminder that as it stands, Influenza is far more likely to infect and kill you than 2019-nCoV: the all-singing, all-dancing new virus coming straight out of Wuhan.

Fortunately, there’s something you can do about influenza – vaccinate yourself and your kids. If you do it in SA, you’ll pay about R50 and if you have medical insurance, you’ll pay nothing and they’ll give you a million points for doing it.

I lived with, cared for and slept next to a very sick wife with influenza for 10 days last year and remained wholly unscarthed (by the virus, at least). Guess who’d had the vaccine and who hadn’t?
We’re both going to get it this year, and so should you. And your family.

And if anyone tells you not to – they’re no friend of yours. Why on earth would you wish a serious and wholly preventable disease upon anyone, let alone a friend?

So yes, avoid these sort of people and this sort of shit:

Full story here. Sample paragraph here:

One recent post came from the mother of a 4-year-old Colorado boy who died from the flu this week. In it, she consulted group members while noting that she had declined to fill a prescription written by a doctor.
The mother also wrote that the “natural cures” she was treating all four of her children with — including peppermint oil, Vitamin C and lavender — were not working and asked the group for more advice. The advice that came in the comments included breastmilk, thyme and elderberry, none of which are medically recommended treatments for the flu.

We’re all (rightly) concerned about the influence of social media and fake news in elections around the world, but there are other (literally life and death) situations where less effort seems to be being made to halt the tide of disinformation reaching (clearly) vulnerable parents.

This needs to be addressed, and quickly.

UPDATE: We have a problem.

Rush Hour Relief

Careful now.

This isn’t some dodgy spin off of the hilarious* Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker series of films. This is Eskom’s plan to suspend loadshedding between 6 and 9 in the morning, and 4 and 6 in the evening. Many (but not all) traffic lights rely on mains electricity to work, and when there is no mains electricity, the situation is a right beagle’s breakfast. And so this is good news and a sensible decision to spare South Africans even more suffering at the hands of the sometime power generating company.

It’s not all happy happy joy joy though. In order to have regular relief from loadshedding, you need to have regular loadshedding, and yes – just checking – we’re getting close to the middle of a week of Stage 2, during which we lose up to 5 hours of power each day. It’s necessary, it’s unavoidable, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s also infuriating and abnormal.

And then there was this evening, whereby I had plans to use the oven during the 4-6 safety period, but it never arrived (the safety period, not the oven). Not enough generating capacity to provide those extra two hours, apparently. Breakdowns, planned maintenance, an aging system hanging on by its fingertips over the precipice of total collapse. You know, just the routine stuff.

And so we missed out on our relief this evening. Tomorrow morning, we’re due to be loadshod between 6 and 8:30 in the morning. Theoretically, we should avoid the power being cut then as well, but then theoretically, we should have avoided it this evening as well. I had to change my cookery plans this evening, and it wasn’t a train-smash.

If I have to wait two and a half hours for my first coffee tomorrow, the consequences might be slightly different.

 

* T&Cs may apply