Tribalism in the Digital Age

‘If you think in any any way differently than me about anything I choose to care about, in any given moment – Unfollow me now.’  I read for the eighteenth time, this morning, from people I sort of know and strangers on facebook.  There’s no danger I’m unfollowing anyone who disagrees with me politically because political beliefs are transient and facebook likes are forever.

It’s not easy being anybody, anywhere, right now.

We’re all scared, except those of us too young or too stupid to appreciate the fragility of human life.  We’re all frustrated.  We’re all worried about a future we can’t see or even imagine.  We’re stuck in the present and we are a people who have very little practice living in the now.  We’re all binge surfing, connecting with like minded people and consolidating our limited understanding of events by agreeing with those who agree with us, and challenging, arguing with, and eventually telling those who don’t agree with us to ‘Fuck off.’

In between this we sleep, in order to keep our energy levels up so we can repeat the cycle the next day.

This is our new normal.

That polarised lifestyle that social media sold us with our free subscription is all we have now.  You are with us or against us.  You are on our side or you are on the side of moral corruption and spiritual denigration and worst of all – you are in danger of losing followers.  There is only two ways to think about anything, our way or the wrong way.

The pandemic was the perfect breeding ground for our latest round of them versus us.  What were your priorities, economic or social?  Did you want to save lives or save the stock market?  Were you one of the ones stupid enough to believe there was a virus?

And I was and I am.  I witnessed capitalism beaten into retreat in the West, for the first time, in my life-time, and I witnessed the housing market (the cornorstone of inequality in every society) grind to a halt.  And I knew a vast and deadly plague must have been unleashed on humanity coz money doesn’t stop making itself for no reason.

And it was hard on everyone, but especially the media who found themselves selling less papers than ever with only one source for content and an unchanging narrative.  Those on the left championed restrictions of movement for the greater good, those on the right outlined the case for reopening the economy cautioning against the long term effects of increased financial insecurity amongst a stir crazy populace.

The closest we came to agreement was that Dominic Cummings was a cunt with 71% of us reaching that conclusion, after watching his press conference.  We were robbed of any resolution on this shared belief because Dominic Cummings is a well protected cunt.

But the fiasco that united us is but a fleeting memory, now, as dystopia moves on and kicks down the door that is racism and live streams it across the globe.  And it is uglier and more garish than anything we had previously thought it was, and we have more time to think than ever before.  And we also, now, have something to think about that isn’t endless boredom and death stats at the top of the leader board.

And before you could say ‘Stay Alert – Control the Virus’, a global uprising against racism was in full swing, and it should have been a euphoric thing for those of us who want a systematic end to racial oppression, but the pandemic loomed large over the gathered crowds and will now spread in the very communities it has already disproportionately affected.

And as I stay at home to save lives, I feel so very sad.  Nuance is dead and there is only one way to see things.  It is not possible to believe that black lives matter more than any cause, even the cause of their own oppression.

And who the fuck am I, with my Celtic complexion, to whitesplain racism?

The papers who, last week, told us to stay put under pain of death, literally, are now telling us to take to the streets in our thousands and chant the slogan ‘I can’t breathe’.

And, as I stay at home, I’ve slowly come to accept the only lives I’m saving are that of me and my boy.



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