The covid era has been a difficult time during which many relationships with family and friends have been wrenched apart over polarised differences of views about what it has all meant and who, or what, is responsible. This polarisation of society has been ramped up by politicians, “experts” and the media. While this polarisation was actively sought by the authorities as a way of maintaining control, it was important for opposing ideas to not become mainstream and those who rejected the official narrative were therefore targeted and cast as conspiracy theorists, covid deniers and anti-vaxxers.
Techniques employed governments, social media platforms, and mainstream media outlets against dissidents and dissident ideas included:
- Censorship: Governments and social media platforms implemented policies and practices aimed at removing content that was deemed to be false or misleading. While these efforts were largely intended to combat misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19, they also had the effect of limiting the spread of dissenting views and alternative perspectives.
- Dismissal: Some mainstream media outlets and public figures dismissed or downplayed dissenting views about COVID-19, characterizing them as conspiratorial or anti-science. This framing may have contributed to a stigmatisation of dissenting viewpoints and a reluctance among some individuals to express or engage with alternative perspectives.
- Harassment: Individuals who expressed dissenting views about COVID-19, including scientists, healthcare professionals, and members of the public, faced harassment and attacks online and in person. This harassment had a chilling effect on the expression of alternative perspectives and created a hostile environment for dissenters.
- Polarisation: The COVID-19 pandemic has been a highly polarising issue, with individuals and communities divided along political, ideological, and cultural lines. This polarisation may have made it more difficult for dissenting views to be heard and engaged with, as individuals were more likely to dismiss or ignore perspectives that were seen as belonging to an opposing camp.
Throughout the covid period, mainstream media articles appeared on a fairly regular basis that were aimed at mostly younger people concerning the seemingly offbeat opinions and beliefs of often older parents, uncles or whacko friends. While these articles purported to offer sympathy and advice to distraught relatives of people caught up in conspiracy and misinformation rabbit holes, close examination reveals them to be propaganda vehicles designed to discredit nonconforming views and provide advice to mainstream friends and relatives on how to deal with and (hopefully) de-programme them.Continue reading “Rabbit Holes, Relatives and Friends”