Other People Suck

29 Jul

We have lost any sense of human decency. The internet is giving us more and quicker methods of demonstrating our superiority, entitlement, and apathy. And I am sick of it. When did we lose the plot?

I have avoided writing this for a long time. I didn’t write it when some people unfollowed me for voting ANC. I didn’t write it when that disgusting itsnotrapeif hashtag unveiled some of twitters worst horrors. I didn’t write it when people were gloating over Osama Bin Laden’s death. I didn’t write it when everyone assumed the Norweigan terrorist was Muslim. I didn’t write it when the onslaught of shitty Amy Winehouse jokes began. I didn’t write it when the brief lived ill-conceived Tuks FM Naziing campaign blazed across my screen.

I am writing it now because I believe that my silence indicates some kind of condonement. And I believe, I hope, that there are others out there who feel the way I do. The last time I spoke out against society’s crass slither into self-appreciative superior judgement and soulless exposure was when South African papers published pictures of the naked corpse of my friend Brett Goldin. I believed that was a step too far. That his mother having to board the plane and see those papers folded up on every seat was a crass slap in the face. That those pictures were not needed. Served no purpose. I did something, because I could not do nothing.

This is what we seem to have forgotten, in the faceless feckless nameless void of the internet: these are real people. Each and every single one of these people you like to pass your superior snide judgement upon, be they faceless victims of a tragedy, celebrities, politicians, have real lives. Real people who love them. In the midst of the general remembrance for artist Lucian Freud was a tweet from Emma Freud saying her uncle had died. Her simple, truthful response stayed with me. That same day I read a comment that we are most likely to find out about our loved one’s deaths from Twitter than we are from a phonecall. Please, people, let that not be a tasteless joke, retweeted with a LOL.

And I believe the perpetrators of this mass shitflinging are, by and large, the WASPs. The white middle classes. Discussing with a friend something so simple as offering someone on crutches a seat on a train, we determined that those most likely to do so would be the old men, the punks, the flaming queens, the women in hijab, the men in skullcaps, the working class bloke with the tattoo – yes, all those stereotypes you like to judge. Like to other. Like to belittle, and consider ourselves superior  to. We make fun of those who don’t speak like us, or have an education, we “know better” and “do our bit”, safe in the knowledge we can return to our safe warm clean homes, eat our nice microwaved Woolworths meals and watch a reality show while paging through a magazine full of airbrushed celebrities.

We want those better off than us to fail, because it proves that no, you can’t have it all. That they aren’t all that, after all. And we want those worse off than us to fail, although we daren’t admit it, because it proves that, well, at least we’ve achieved something.

I believe it all stems from fear. And fear stems from ignorance. You, white middle class people, are ignorant. We’ve conned ourselves into believing that, because this is the “information age”, we are all informed and knowledgeable. Who needs experts when we have Google? We saw one picture on Twitter, so we know all about it. We shared a link on Facebook, we totally supported that cause. And, online, we surround ourselves with people who think the way we do. Of course we do, and that’s natural, we’re hardly going to hang about with people we can’t stand. But it encourages us to believe that “everybody thinks that”. The ease of a “like”, “share”, “retweet”, the desire to be part of a “meme”, to be breaking the news. We’re all guilty of it. We live in little bubbles, little safety nets, and we throw around jokes and insults because, well, because what we really want to say is THANK FUCK THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN TO ME, AND PLEASE GOD, WHO I DON’T REALLY KNOW IF I BELIEVE IN, KEEP ME SAFE FROM REALITY. And oh so quickly that fear becomes hate. Jealousy, spite, vengefulness.

And please, I’m not calling for a boring pc world in which we are only ever nice to each other. I’m all for arguments, deserved insults, incisive humour, downright silliness, bring it on. I’m calling for a basic grasp of human decency. And you know. You know when you cross the line. My own personal code is always: could I justify this to my kids one day? Would I want them to do it? If they Google me one day, will they be ashamed?

I am guilty of avoiding conflict. I am guilty of avoiding calling people out on comments or behaviour I consider wrong. Partly because I try to respect the opinions and choices of other people. But mostly, I fear, because it’s too much trouble and takes too long to argue our case. But now I’m done avoiding. I will become that pain in the ass, the one who calls people out on instances of blatant racism, sexism, hell, any kind of ism, any kind of blind hatred, any kind of crass humour at someone else’s expense. I shall be making use of my unfollow and defriend functions. I shall be challenging you.

I shall do something, because I can no longer do nothing.


5 Responses to “Other People Suck”

  1. meganshead July 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Love it. There is nothing more satisfying than making the choice to speak out, do and confront rather than to keep quiet, bottle and bubble.

  2. Tasniem Boltman July 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Brilliant post! And this is why you are my dear friend, and I shall never give up on you no matter how little we see of each other.
    Much love to you, mwah!

  3. Dorothy Lemoult July 30, 2011 at 9:07 am #


  4. Beth Cooper Howell July 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    I bow to you, Karen. Respect. xx


  1. A Simple Answer « A Few Thoughts On Writing. And Theatre. And Stuff. - August 2, 2011

    […] A Few Thoughts On Writing. And Theatre. And Stuff. Just another WordPress.com weblog Skip to content ← Other People Suck […]

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