Discover more from Webworm with David Farrier
When We're Afraid To Voice An Opinion
I wanted to create space to check in, and acknowledge a terrible week.
I had some light and fluffy stuff to send you this week, and who knows — maybe I should have. But things feel heavy at the moment and it doesn’t seem like the time to talk about light and fluffy stuff.
And there is this pressure to say something.
I’m sure you’ve felt it.
I get it. We all share this planet together and like it or not humans are incredibly social creatures and it’s kinda part of the deal that we give a shit about what is going on with other people. So for some, silence can be taken as a sign we don’t care. Of course the problem is that saying something can lead to a bunch of stupid stuff being said, especially about complicated things because we’re not all political science majors and often the people doing the talking don’t have a lived experience of what they’re talking about.
Simply the art of communicating is hard as well. You show sympathy for a group and that’s read as being instantly dismissive of another group. If sympathy for multiple groups is mentioned, the order in which the sympathy is dished out is what draws criticism and ire.
(I’m about to walk into that trap myself — so flip a coin to decide if you read (1) or (2) first.)
People get confused about the groups. For the record, 1) “Hamas” and “Palestinians” are different groups. They mean different things. 2) “Israel’s leadership” and “Jewish people” are different groups. These words mean different things. And yet they’re used interchangeably and misleadingly.
There’s also the simple fact that saying something is difficult when misinformation and disinformation is flying around at a pace we’ve never seen before. Webworm started with nothing but coverage of conspiracy theory culture. Today, it’s so much worse. I’ve never seen so much bullshit spouted on Twitter/X — and besides bad actors, a lot of that is just because the bullshit is based on other bullshit in a never-ending cycle of bullshit.
“The level of disinformation on Israel-Hamas war being algorithmically promoted on twitter is unlike anything I’ve ever been exposed to in my career as a political scientist,” wrote political scientist Ian Bremmer.
In short, it’s a shitshow out there.
I’ve had my head in it for the last few days, stepping out only to see an Argentinian horror called When Evil Lurks. It was an unrelenting, harrowing watch, the premise being that when evil lurks, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. There is no winning, there is no victory. That’s felt like the theme of the week with my eyes glued to the news. And maybe I’ve cheapened this whole rant by bringing pop culture into this. Fuck bringing pop culture into this.
The other problem about talking about this stuff in many cases — including my case — is that we don’t have anything new to add. People much smarter than me are talking about it.
And that’s where I want to end today — with somebody else. Because I keep coming back to something Patton Oswalt shared. I could not say it better, so I am sharing his words here in case your brain, like my brain, has been reeling non-stop.
“It is absolutely reasonable and logical to be opposed to the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY calling for the protection of Jews in Israel and around the world. Hamas is a terrorist organization that is attacking civilians by land, air, and sea. The images of kidnapped Israelis are shocking and devastating.
Given the thousands of years of persecution of Jews, please know that your Jewish friends - even if they are not in Israel - are hurting and are fearful when things like this happen and non-Jews are silent.
I understand many of us are afraid to voice an opinion because the crisis there is so nuanced and hard to understand, and we are afraid of saying the wrong thing. But we can - and must - always use our voices to denounce terrorism and the senseless murder of civilians.”
Stay safe out there. Let me know you’re doing okay in the comments.
We’re all sharing this rock hurtling through time and space — and constantly readers here remind me how valuable and great that can be. As always, let’s all be respectful and safe. Emotions are high. We’re all tired.