PSA: We've Hit Maximum Gossip about Vaccines

The internet is awash with disinformation & it's hurting my brain

Hi,

We’re at that part of the pandemic and vaccination cycle where many have regressed into the psyche of a 12-year-old boy: hugely insecure and confused, jostling to share gossip in order to become interesting, relevant, and popular.

Some of those 12-year-olds are actually 38-year-old multi-millionaire rapper/pop stars like Nicki Minaj, who spread unverified utter bollocks to their 22 million followers about their cousin’s friend’s big balls:

Nicki is our most high profile example of the unverified, unrelenting gossip entering the vaccine discussion.

It’s something I was reminded of this week as New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern made this post on her public Facebook page over the weekend:

This was a recipe for disaster. An open thread on Facebook calling for vaccine stories, with this prompt:

Uh oh. It was a prompt worthy of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, except this one had consequences. And this was a no-win scenario: Clearly it was going to be flooded with Nicki Minaj-esque idiocy, but what then? Delete the comments and you become part of the government cover-up. Leave them up, and you’re spreading harmful disinformation.

And let’s be clear — this thread became disinformation central. It wasn’t misinformation — false information seeded by those who didn’t know any better. This was disinformation through and through: people actively seeking to spread false information with the active intent to mislead.

Over 2000 likes, hugs and thumb’s ups.

Look — if these health events happened, they are sad. One person had a heart attack and the other is “half paralysed”. But the false equivalency of linking the jab to these health outcomes is — let’s be clear — utterly deranged. It’s Nicki Minaj’s big balled cousin’s friend territory. Because you know what happened immediately after I got vaccinated? Someone backed into my car. That fucking vaccine must have been responsible.

Look, I get it — it’s fucking awful being a human trapped on planet earth trying to make sense of the non-sensical situation we find ourselves in from the second we wake up. “WHY ARE WE EVEN HERE?!” our brains scream.

And we’re always looking for patterns to back up the decisions we’ve already reached. So if you think vaccines are dangerous, any information that confirms that theory gets added to your brain worms without a second thought. This is happening constantly.

The thread went on:

I imagine they’re being deleted by Jacinda’s team because they don’t want to spread a bunch of false equivalencies. But there’s that catch 22: deletion means coverup. This is fucking Watergate to these people.

De Philly: “I know three families mourning healthy children with no previous heart conditions that died from enlarged hearts within two days of getting the Pfizer shot”

Apparently De Philly knows three families who now have three dead children. I’m not going to post more of their comments, but it’s almost as if they’re all trying to out-do each other. Because they are. It’s the 12-year-old in the schoolyard again, vying for popularity and the best story.

And these people are weaponising deaths (assuming these deaths are even real). Which sucks: imagine dying, and your legacy isn’t donating some organs or inspiring people with your work or life outlook — it’s becoming an unwitting participant in someone’s disinformation campaign about the vaccine.

Because Julie from earlier? You go to her Facebook — and she’s posting the link to Jacinda’s post on her own wall. Not just satisfied to spread her own bullshit, she’s essentially encouraging her followers (just guessing here, but I imagine they are of the same persuasion as Julie) to do the same:

And they all are — Julie, De Philly — the lot of them:

Sidebar: While browsing these hellish Facebook pages, I couldn’t help but notice many of them suffered from Brian Tamaki and Peter Mortlock’s tendency to misspell words, and make generous use of “…”, “..”, and the space bar:

As to the potential validity of the even the base information (that someone died or had a health problem in the first place) in the posts I’ve been reading — I’m skeptical. Click through to most of the commenters’ personal pages and it’s a hodge podge of bullshit. Endless posts from uncredited news sources:

ZeroHedge.com? I really wish more people could understand the concept of checking sources. Not all websites are the same. But then again… the legitimate sites are part of the coverup, right? They’re in on the conspiracy. Only the tabloids and the blogs are brave enough to tell the truth.

Have there been health complications and even deaths related to Covid vaccines? Yes. One of them was reported in New Zealand, which possibly plays into the chaos seen under Jacinda’s post. But these are (very tragic) blips on the statistical radar.

Adverse health outcomes are certainly not anywhere close to the level of chaos we’re seeing described under Jacinda Ardern’s Facebook post, or in Nicki Minaj’s now deleted Twitter timeline. And “Not anywhere close” is an understatement. They exist in different worlds.

To me, all this talk and gossip is best summed up in the portrayal of a psychiatric institution in 12 Monkeys: utterly unhinged, utterly dated, and utterly offensive in its portrayal of mental illness — all at the same time. In short: this shit is as stupid as it comes and should only be consumed as vapid entertainment.

Where to from here? Strap in, I guess. Stay sane by treating all this bullshit gossip like it is: bullshit. A weird ARG we’re all trapped in together.

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The truth is, we’re at that stage of the pandemic where anti-vaxxers are now calling themselves “vaccine hesitant”. It’s like how conspiracy theorists like to call themselves “researchers”. It’s an exercise in branding to appear less unhinged.

They’re a group of people largely fuelled by stories that are utterly untrue — stories like the ones I’ve shared. Unfortunately some of these people are influencers with huge followings — and it’s utterly depressing to see the hundreds of thousands of likes roll in on posts like this:

Posts informed by gossip and disinformation. Ugh.

Before I go, I’d like to leave you with two clips you may have seen doing the rounds. The first is a bunch of vox pop interviews with people in the 80s, horrified they’re being made to wear seat belts.

Their language may sound familiar.

Then there’s this news report from Trinidad — from the network best placed to tell the story of Nicki Minaj and her cousin’s friend’s big balls:

It’s nice to see a sensible news report dismantling a post that was taken far too seriously by far too many people.

Stay safe, stay sane, and talk soon.

Oh — and I’m curious to hear the most batshit bit of gossip you’ve heard over this pandemic. Don’t worry, it’s a safe space here: Most of the idiots are all over on Facebook.

David.