The Problem with Comments

I was flipping through my Facebook newsfeed and up popped a story from the Huffington Post UK about Donald Trump commenting on the return to the US of an Ebola infected doctor.

The article said:

“The two Americans who became infected with ebola “must suffer the consequences” and be prevented from returning to the United States and potentially life-saving treatment, Donald Trump has said.

In another comment that makes it strange to think Trump was seriously mooted as a candidate to be president, Trump said Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, both aid workers, should be made to stay in West Africa where they volunteered to go to fight the worst outbreak of the disease ever.

This is despite the fact the fatal disease, which has killed at least 729 people, is not airborne and is spread through fluids – and, once in America, the pair will be treated in one of the most sophisticated hospital units in the world.”

What did he say? The Trumpster tweeted, amongst other things:

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!
9:22 PM – 1 Aug 2014
1,884 RETWEETS 880 FAVORITES ReplyRetweetFavorite

I don’t rightly care what Donald trump has to say about dog turds, let alone this issue but the 208 comments on the Facebook post were a sure sign that many others did have an opinion. So I clicked. And I laughed because what else can you do but laugh? I read some more… I laughed some more, until I got to this comment:

“He’s right! If you want to be some do-gooder loser who wanders off to the Third World to help the scum, then fuck off there and never come back.”

I was suddenly brought back to the mid 80s when the ‘AIDS epidemic’ was raging and was remembering some of the vile comments that were spread in the name of fear and ignorance. Do you remember people saying hideous things about homosexuals and how it was dangerous to even stand next to a gay person in an elevator: what if he (because these hypotheticals were always he) sneezed and had AIDS and you breathed the virus in? I do…

These were the days before social media. So I wondered: If social media had been around during the AIDS epidemic, would it have been easier to get the truth out about AIDS or would we have seen a major propagation of fearmongering, as we are seeing now with the Ebola cases? Would it have made things better or worse? And what would Donald Trump have said about AIDS if he’d had access to Twitter in 1985? Not that I particularly care.

We have the ability to share information and send comments around the world in a split second but I wonder if we shouldn’t take half of that split second to the ponder whether we should . What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “The Problem with Comments

  1. I try really really hard to not read comments on Facebook articles, particularly those on HuffPo. There are a lot of angry, misinformed, and downright hateful people out there, who hide behind their computer screens and say whatever they like. Comments like these make me afraid for humanity. I have often said that just because we have the ability to share our thoughts and opinions with the world, doesn’t mean that we should.

    Remember when we were told as kids, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all?” Boy, has THAT ever gone out the window…

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