online harrassment

Social Media in the time of Covid-19

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On my area’s Next Door app, a person, now working from home (Angry Neighbor) lambasted his next-door neighbor for having a new roof put on (Roofing Neighbor) because of all the noise that disrupted the Angry Neighbor’s workday. Without even checking with Roofing Neighbor, he concluded the roofing work was not necessary, was not of an emergent need, and therefore Roofing Neighbor was ruining everyone’s work-from-home experience out of utter rudeness and with ill-intent.

Roofing Neighbor responded by saying the work was being done because of leaks that were disrupting family life and causing an unsafe environment for their family of five. It was indeed an emergent, rather than an elective, roof repair.

Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor went back and forth and back and forth while those following the stream excoriated Angry Neighbor for being such an )&*?+^$%^&#% to the tune of 47 comments by the end of the day. I happened to notice that Angry Neighbor and Roofing Neighbor had stopped commenting way before that time so they had obviously removed themselves from the fray.

The next day, there were 137 comments, none from Angry and Roofing Neighbor, but comments nonetheless from uninvolved people still ticked off at Angry Neighbor’s rudeness in bashing his next-door neighbor.

What is this all about?

It’s about fragile psyches angered and worried about the state of our country and our world in the time of Covid-19. Sure, such social media harassing and bullying has been going on for quite some time now, but I have to believe it has worsened because of how vulnerable all of us feel.

A dog backed into a corner lashes out at perceived threats.

We are all backed in a corner right now with no proven safe way out. Most of us are doing our part in trying to contain a menace that threatens our very existence and that of our loved ones, but thus far, no relief is on the immediate horizon. We are petrified, and instead of treating each other with kid gloves, some of us are kicking others when they are down, a practice that need not happen. Instead…

As a human race, we must choose between:

  • the violence of adults, and the smiles of children;
  • the ugliness of hate, and the will to oppose it;
  • inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man, and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves for naught.

Even in darkness, it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. Every moment of our life is essential; every gesture is essential. Our role in life is to give an offering to each other. – Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel