Today is the first ‘okay’ day I’ve had since starting chemo. It’s day 13 of the first 21-day cycle. To say it’s been a rough week would be an understatement, but, having said that, I was expecting it to be worse. I’m very thankful for the good hours and am looking forward to a few good days ahead.
Over the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time, in between naps, trawling through social media. When I was going a mile-a-minute before getting sick, I only ever paid a passing glance to what happened on Twitter and Facebook. I never really engaged too much. However, the last week has been a deep-dive into what is a twisted world of so called ‘social’ engagements. I’ve discovered that there are a lot of people who are deeply unwell: I mean, there are some seriously deranged people on social media.
Aside from the delusions being suffered by many commentators, particularly since we are in the silly election season, I’ve also witnessed some truly horrendous engagements. The vast majority of the indecent exchanges are engaged in by anonymous trolls, which gives them all the cover they need, to be truly detestable human-beings.
The most common shows of indecency can be witnessed when, for the most part, anonymous/thinly veiled accounts attack people who are clearly of a fragile state-of-mind and have said something which is clearly insane. Often, the virtue-signalling trolls will, in a single tweet or post, 1. Point out that someone is clearly mentally-unwell, and 2. Mock and deride them for being mentally unwell. How is that virtuous?
If you ask me, attacking people who are mentally-unwell, in what are often vicious and potentially violent ways; is simply sick. It’s indecent. The very people who claim to be compassionate and virtuous go out of their way to publicly deride people who are clearly not in control of the faculties. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m as much of a hypocrite here as some of the people who I am now criticising. Many-a-time I launched into an unbridled attack on someone on social media, generally in responses to them attacking me, but sometimes I’ve initiated what were unbecoming engagements. However, now that I’ve realised the error of my ways, I’m going to try to be a better person. And that’s the nub of my point here, we all get a pass for being passionate about something, but once the error of your ways has been realised you have to change.
The world is a horrible place at the best of times. There is so much evil and vitriol pumping through society, even good people get trapped in these cynical-cyclones, particularly on social media. We really do need to try harder, all of us, to be considerate of what other people might be going through. If someone is saying something on social media which is so clearly “insane”, then I would argue that attacking them and telling them to “get help”, is not a solution to a problem but it is a cheapening of humankind. It’s nasty, unbecoming, and is truly horrible to witness.
There needs to be a c-change in how people, on every side of arguments, engage in public discourse. There needs to be an assertion of decency, compassion, and sanity in the narratives we engage in. There is enough hate in the world and people who are generally good should not be adding to the sum total of hate in the world. Good people have a moral duty to debate in a decent manner. We must behave in a way which works to reduce the sum total of human suffering in the world, not add to it. The anonymity and protection of a screen on social media obviously brings the worst out in some people but it shouldn’t. We are evolved enough beings to know the difference in right and wrong. Honestly, if a wild animal did some of the things people do online, you’d chastise the poor animal and wonder what was wrong with it.
We can’t continue to make excuses for ourselves and others, especially when they behave is a way which is, essentially, sub-human. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard of accountability and strive for civility, not controversy.
So, please, if you are reading this; try to be a little better on social media (and in life in general) next time you engage with someone with whom you disagree with. You might not agree with them, in fact, you might disagree with them on the most fundamental of levels and they might be a deplorable being, but that’s no excuse for you to reduce your own humanity. It’s no excuse to stop being the best person you can be. Be the change you want to see, and start by forcing yourself to be a better person, just a little bit, everyday.
Emmett Corcoran is a journalist based in Strokestown, Co Roscommon.
My good friend and former colleague Phelim O'Neill, of Phelim O'Neill Solicitors and Harringtons Solicitors, has launched a new website: gardastationsolicitors.ie. The new site is dedicated to providing legal advice in Garda stations.
Good luck to Phelim with the new project.