A few years ago, over a pint in the local I was feeling a little melancholy.
I confessed to my mate that I worried that I did not have strong opinions about anything. That whatever the discussion I found myself understanding why the other person had their views and I constantly softened my stance so that the conversation remained bland.
Then came Brexit.
As a Brit who has spent 39 years in NZ I understood little about the intricacies of the UK leaving the Euro Zone. My only view initially was that if we are to be governed, I would like it to be by people that I can eyeball when I disagree with their decisions and then vote out. Therefore, my mild support for Brexit was based on not being governed by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels
After the Brexit vote, as was the norm, my mate and I took to the bar and I expected a gentle discussion on the outcome. Even before the first sip my mate announced “ I have been reading on social media, and do you know that not one intelligent person supports Brexit”!
What followed in the coming months was a constant barrage of “ only racists and the illiterate support Brexit. Its about immigration and these people are ignorant and do not know what they have voted for”
I found myself having to read more to counteract the attacks that were made on me at every opportunity. Often these attacks were coupled with disgraceful allegations about my morals and intelligence.
The more I read the more I realised that I did in fact support Brexit for many reasons and that the media and particularly the group-think mob on Facebook were ill informed or sinister in their motives. I soon learned that any discussion from myself had to be accompanied with studies from web sites approved by my detractors.
These people did not have to justify their stance at all. They provided no information – it was sufficient to say debunked, racist or far-right propaganda.
Then came Donald Trump.
I did not watch the apprentice, so my knowledge of Donald Trump was virtually nil and my first reaction to his presidential run was this was a stunt.
I was not impressed by his intellect and found his speeches clumsy. However, what he was saying did not seem outrageous for a politician running for the betterment of Americans.
His mantra was jobs for Americans – bring back jobs from China – become less dependent for energy from areas that historically have dragged America into conflict – if Europe is worried about Russia then pay their fair amount to NATO which was heavily subsidised by the American taxpayer.
DT’s solution to illegal immigration of a wall seemed impractical to me but his articulation of the problem was good. Hundreds of thousands each year of American opioid deaths from drugs coming across the southern border – cartels human smuggling and sex trafficking seemed like problems worth trying to fix.
I remember, again over a drink, the first time I mentioned that I was surprised at the vitriol thrown at the man whose policies seemed to be driven by a desire to improve the lives of working-class Americans.
If I did not realise how racist and ignorant, I had become I was certainly informed in the next 30 minutes or so.
People I called friends thought it was quite ok to insinuate that I was an idiot and a closet racist. Nothing I could say would get me past these statements. All my information was debunked or derived from white supremist web sites.
Their information was from the BBC or Facebook but of course they did not need to produce it.
The more I was attacked the more I read, and this confirmed to me that Donald Trump was probably the most lied about politician in my life time. Russian Collusion, good people on both sides, drink bleach for Covid relief were all trotted out as fact and no presentation of alternative data was allowed.
Then came Covid.
I agreed with the initial response throughout the world as no one knew quite what we were dealing with and precautions were needed.
I remember exactly the moment I became stupid again. Yes, it was over a drink and I asked the question “what has happened to Flu? There are no cases being reported around the world.” My Facebook informed mate told me that the precautions around the world, masks and lockdowns had destroyed Flu.
When I suggested that Flu is transmitted the same way as Covid and asked why the precautions did not stop Covid, I was asked where I was getting my information from and I need to follow the science?
On another occasion when I asked why if the pandemic was going to destroy the world and vaccinations were at least 18 months away why the total blackout of specialists who had successfully treated patients with hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. I was confused by the vicious response to anyone discussing these treatments. Apparently, this response was to protect me from non-medical people like Donald Trump who had no right to mention world famous epidemiologists who clearly thought they had arrived at a treatment that might save humanity
Things have gone down hill from those early days. Any mention of esteemed scientists like McCullogh. Malone, Cole and the rest are dismissed with the debunked word or have been discredited by the Facebook fact checkers. Even the data from the CDC, Public Health England and Scotland are ridiculed if they do not support the narrative.
If you are brave enough to point out that NZ is following the Israel model and after 4 injections Israel have more cases, hospitalisations, and deaths than at any time during the pandemic you are referred to the safe and effective doctrine.
I have friends now confiding in me that despite not contracting any Covid until they took the injections, they are so relieved that because of this decision they are having a mild case. When I pointed out that Omicron is known to be milder and that might be the reason for reduced symptoms the anti vaxer word surfaces again.
These friends support the mandates because in their view a vaccine that shows no difference in inhibiting the spread of the virus between vaccinated and unvaccinated reduces the spread of the virus.
I confess that occasionally I long for a return to the days when my conversation and opinions were so bland. For the days where I didn’t need to spend every waking hour studying subjects only to realise such efforts have made me more stupid and even racist.
Now what about that Russia, Ukraine business. I need to get onto Facebook to find out what that is all about!