The unbelievable grimness of /r/HermanCainAward, the subreddit that catalogs anti-vaxxer COVID deaths
This data is scraped automatically and may be incorrect.
- Lili Loofbourow
- Sep 21 2021
- Word count
- 1957 words
I've mentioned before that I grew up in the American south, in the shadow of AIDS. Before I knew I was gay, I knew gay people died of AIDS, and, based on the reactions of the people around me, it was not a tragedy but a delight. AIDS was widely seen as God's righteous punishment for "sinful faggots" and was the obvious and desired outcome for those who were "against nature".
At best these deaths were treated somewhat somberly as "just desserts", but, at worst, people found delight in them. People would celebrate the deaths and the disease, treating them like an event or a spectacle. They turned them into jokes. There was a sense of glee in the ways that some people talked about them. Gay men's deaths were a punchline. They were treated as a source of joy, happiness, and vindication -- as far as you can get from sorrow.
Even before I knew I was gay and personally identified with the people who were dying, I found it hard to understand why so many were being so callous. Couldn't they see the suffering and loss? Couldn't they understand these were people who mattered? People who had lives of their own, with friends and family who cared about them? I remember being baffled that their empathy was not just disarmed but inverted. The sense of suffering and loss wasn't numbed -- it was positive, desirable.
/r/HermanCainAward hits me the same way as those people I grew up with. I think many users there take it as a cautionary tale, and I think many users there are experiencing the kind of well-justified compassion fatigue that @Loire identified in his honest, trenchant comment. I am fucking tired of assholes, especially those whose obstinance and arrogance put others at risk and contribute to suffering and harm, and I think the popularity of the subreddit speaks to that being a widely shared sentiment. Assholes have created an empathy gap for themselves that is so large that it is unnavigable.
Apart from not feeling for them, however, I think there are many people on HCA -- too many -- who use the space as a way of dunking on the dead and turning loss into irreverence and joy. Even if no one is explicitly cheering on COVID, the subtext is there, plain as day in post after post. COVID is finally killing the "right" people, and that is cause for celebration. Empathy is once again not just deadened, but inverted.
I'm not trying to say this in an accusatory way. Believe me when I say that I understand why people feel this and even why they want to. I've felt it myself too. Long before /r/HermanCainAward I was surfing /r/LeopardsAteMyFace for the exact same types of posts. The people chronicled by those subreddits are often examples of the most toxically selfish people whose actions aren't just impolite but inexcusable. Many of them have contributed to a political, informational, and social environment at large that puts others in harm -- to say nothing of the individual risks they've brought to others they've interacted with. I myself have had to deal with the effects of this personally and professionally. My health and the health of my loved ones has been put at risk by the types of people chronicled there, and this started long before COVID. After I came out, I got to face head on the hatred of gay people that was already so explicitly shared by my community. Believe me when I say that I absolutely get why so many people want to celebrate the turnabout that they feel is finally giving them a long overdue sense of fair play.
But I keep coming back to the way that I felt when I was younger. Was it wrong for people to mock AIDS victims simply because those victims weren't "deserving" like they thought they were? Or, was it wrong to mock AIDS victims because, on a more fundamental level, delighting in others' suffering and loss is wrong? I feel like it's the latter even though I constantly lose sight of that. As much as my empathy has almost entirely turned itself off when it comes to selfish assholes, I feel like it's my obligation as a human being to not let it invert. I don't like the idea that COVID deaths will ever become a source of joy or something to meme about with my internet pals. I don't like the idea that at this point I've read far more "memorials" of people who've died because I want to feel a sense of righteous vindication than I have memorials of regular people who've died of the disease, despite those being far more numerous and, arguably, meaningful.
Partisan politics and outrage culture have so deeply embedded themselves in our lives that we won't even care about someone's obituary unless it feeds a culture war. Where's the subreddit for chronicling "regular" COVID deaths? Is there even one? Why hasn't it pulled in subscribers by the hundreds of thousands? Furthermore, why do we feel comfortable passing judgment on someone so severely, and so swiftly? I've seen HCA posts with a handful of shitty edgy memes and nothing more -- not even misinformation. Here's one I just pulled from the current frontpage.
Here's the second highest comment in that thread:
This is inverted empathy, far from the actual concept of matching what others feel, where suffering is flipped over and transmuted into joy. The person in that HCA post was not a misinformation mastermind or leader. The engagement metrics on their posts were in the single digits. This was merely someone who shared a few edgy, prickly Facebook statuses. Is that enough for us to delight in their death? Is that all it takes?
This sentiment is of course not indicative of everyone or maybe even most on the HCA subreddit, but it's there far too much for me to be comfortable with it. It's also not limited to HCA. Every time I revisit reddit I'm treated to people treating others in this sort of hyper-judgmental, abusive, demeaning way, and the constant justification for it is a sort of childish rebuttal of "but THEY do it too!". reddit probably learned it from Twitter, and Twitter probably learned it from the kind of people who did stuff like openly mocking AIDS victims when I was a child. I'm sure we could trace the lineage back further if needed, but why bother? At some point we have to examine the idea that unrepentant cruelty is a cycle that needs to be broken, and sometimes it's in our best interest to personally stop it in ourselves, even when we really don't want to. Yes, I know "they do it too!", and, seriously, fuck them for that, but that's part of the reason they're so shitty in the first place, so why do we want to emulate that in ourselves?
HCA might be a valuable thing in some ways. Maybe it's doing some good. Maybe it's changing the hearts and minds of people who, up until now, have refused to empathize with the suffering and loss caused by COVID. Despite my complaints about it here I actually find that somewhat satisfying as a possibility because at this point, I don't know what will convince those people. That said, there's a harm that's fully separate from all of that, and I think it's worth addressing on its own: I believe that HCA contributes to an internet culture that galvanizes people to outright dance on the graves of others after reading nothing but four fucking Facebook posts. The subreddit is as dark as it gets -- a parade of death -- but the associated sadness is almost completely absent and unrecognizable. Case in point, here's another post from the frontpage right now: "The first award that actually made me sad"
I ended up moving away from the place I grew up in, where the people around me celebrated AIDS. Cruelty made me leave. I had no desire to live in and among that hatred -- much less subject myself to it -- so I went somewhere I knew people wouldn't do that, where being shitty to others was not the first foot forward. Likewise, HCA is emblematic of an internet I don't want to be a part of. It makes me want to go somewhere else -- somewhere empathy is not inverted.
Thank you for bringing your compassionate point of view to this discussion.
However, there is a very big difference between the gay men who died of AIDS and these people who are dying of COVID. There are vaccines against COVID which are freely available. We had no vaccine against HIV/AIDS in those days.
I remember being told that "GAY" meant "Got AIDS yet?" I remember hearing people say that AIDS was God's plague on homosexuals for our sinful ways. I remember those things. I also remember lots of other hateful things said and done to me, and about me, as a young gay person in the 1980s and 1990s.
But we weren't doing anything wrong, and this virus was striking us down. Meanwhile, these COVID-deniers and anti-vaxxers are not only refusing to accept science, but the ones who make it to the /r/HermanCainAward subreddit are publicising their anti-science point of view and attempting to convince other people to join them.
We gay men weren't trying to drag people into our AIDS hell with us. These COVID-deniers are. We didn't have a vaccine available. They do. Therein lies the difference. And it's an important one.
It definitely is an important difference, and I will admit that I do think some of the HCA recipients have done enough harm to deserve some cruelty. Unfortunately, I also think there's some overfitting going on, where the cruelty gets extended to people who get lumped in with the worst of the worst, despite them not being the evil villains we assume them to be.
I also think it's worth considering that, with regards to AIDS, many gay people were doing the wrong things. In the US at least (not sure about Australia) safer sex practices aimed at stopping the spread of HIV were highly controversial in gay communities. The shutting down of bathhouses was seen by some as cultural genocide. Plenty of men continued to have unprotected sex with multiple partners, including many who declined to disclose their positive status to others.
In the gay communities I've been in my entire life, including up to today, there have been a subset of people who fetishize unprotected sex, often with anonymous partners, despite this being the exact behavior that killed so many of us in our own epidemic. I've heard so many complaints about condoms from gay men that see them as a hassle and a buzzkill. Even now male-male sexual contact continues to be by far the highest HIV transmission method in the US, far outpacing heterosexual contact despite being engaged in by far less of the population. We are decades out from an epidemic that decimated our community, where we should absolutely "know better", and yet we're still spreading the very same virus in the exact same ways. Yes, we were subjected to immense and widespread cruelty that we did not deserve, but should we allow that kind of cruelty for those who did and do behave badly?
I can't find it in my heart to dance on any of the deaths or diagnoses that came from this. I can find disappointment, frustration, and even outright anger with some of them, but that's not a source of joy for me, and I don't think it ever will be. I see too much of myself in them. I think with HCA, because people don't see themselves in the victims, it's much easier to find joy. It's the same foundation of those who mocked AIDS victims. They couldn't see themselves in us. We're blinding ourselves to the humanity of others in the interest to feed hatred, and I don't want to feed hatred, even when I feel someone deserves it.
An all too common scenario.
Although I invite you to consider if you're not doing the same thing in reverse for that subreddit's participants. You talk about those who find joy in those deaths and i will grant you they exist and congregate there -- but most people to me seem to use it as an outlet to be sad that there are so many deniers who would literally die on a hill of their own making.
I dunno, that's how I see it...
That’s probably fair. My complaint is definitely not about everybody there, and probably not even the majority.
Something that is different here is that the people being highlighted in HCA have spent the last 18 months actively working to make life considerably worse for everyone else. If it weren't for them, the pandemic could quite possibly be a non-issue throughout the country right now.
Their deaths should not be celebrated, and having a community like HCA is downright garish. But I do find it extremely difficult not to feel some catharsis when I hear stories on the news of anti-vax/anti-mask covid-deniers filling hospitals in places with vile anti-mask policies like Florida or Idaho. They do not deserve to die just for being stupid, but they absolutely brought it on themselves. That cathartic feeling I get has been deeply troubling, but it also might be the only thing keeping me from slipping entirely into a pit of depression and despair right now.
When pitching HBO's "Watchmen" to others I've used Simone Weil's The Iliad, or the Poem of Force to touch on the main theme of escalating cycles of violence. To steal the synopsis:
You're definitely not wrong that many people feed what they think they fight, and probably harm themselves in the process in a way slow and subtle enough to not be easily recognized.
They become targets for the other side to rally against, lower the bar for discourse for their own, alienate the uninformed, slowly rigidify themselves with the same diet of hate of Limbaugh listeners, and attack in ways with a lot of friendly fire (e.g., "ugly", "idiots", etc.).
Can I challenge you to think of situations where cruelty or antipathy would be called for?
Can you think of harms that choosing indifference/a muting of empathy may cause compared to inverting it?
Do you feel that that sort of thing is wrong for you, or wrong for everyone?
I remember seeing you mention in some other thread that you're a social easer(?), inclined to calming people and smoothing things over. I grew up in a house with domestic abuse and even without that probably had similar inclinations. Even a happy couple that communicates through bickering puts me on edge. I can't be healthy or functional for long in those sorts of environments.
I think I've met some people that needed anger to cope, though, or used it as fuel for some worthwhile causes. Like... damn, sometimes I wish I was as productive as a 1k a day hate-poster.
I grew up in the Midwest, so I've had some similar exposure. My next-door neighbors had a kid my age. He wasn't smart or athletic, he looked weird, he talked weird, he was overweight. He got teased. He lived with some very openly racist grandparents, a mom who eventually had an affair and abandoned the family, followed by a dad who went to a local park and shot himself.
I don't know what happened to him but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up being anti-vax, like the co-workers of Loire, or worse. What could have convinced him may have been something that needed to happen two decades ago, and I don't know how to deal with that.
There are people who you may not be reasonably able to convince. Sometimes I think about an aggressive drunk as a paracosm for conflict. You want to do everything you can to disengage/avoid escalation... right up to some threshold a fight becomes inevitable. Then you should do anything you can to incapacitate immediately. If you don't switch at the right moment you're either causing a conflict that could be avoided or exposing yourself to harm.
That's something I can understand on an intellectual level but ain't great with on an emotional one. And it's impossible to apply to a societal level. You can't be certain what's right for someone you've known for years, let alone a four Facebook post stranger, or the extremely heterogeneous audience that make up the internet.
It's beyond me, so I'm glad you wrote this. It's a needed part of the conversation. I hope there's some sort of emergent wisdom that bubbles to the top by people like you and Loire being honest with themselves and reflecting on all this mess.
I'm incredibly sympathetic to @Loire and anyone in a similar situation to him. I left that kind of environment because I couldn't put up with that day in and day out and it was making me a worse person. Not everyone wants to/can leave though. I think my perspective on cruelty/antipathy would probably be different if I had to put up with that shit day constantly, every day. At this point, healthcare workers in particular have earned the ability to treat people however they feel necessary, in my opinion.
I worry about this with Trumpism. By not biting back, am I just enabling toxic selfishness and assholeishness? I've thought my entire life that kindness is never wasted. I honestly don't know if I think that's true anymore, because I've seen how ineffective it is against an entire segment of our population and how it essentially gets exploited. You can't appeal to someone's better nature if they cherish only their worst impulses.
This also puts me in a bind though, because I feel like giving in to my worst impulses divorces me from my own better nature. It also makes me start to see in myself all the things I hate in them. If I'm being honest, I feel like I'm in an unwinnable situation. I'm almost certain that some people here are absolutely pissed the fuck off at me because I didn't take conservatives to task in my original post. These anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers have been unrepentantly shitty for so long now, and here I am ignoring their misdeeds all while chastizing beleaguered liberals for their lack of a conscience? Talk about missing the target and and adding insult to injury.
It's a fair read of my comment, and the truth is that the only reason I'm making that criticism is that I feel like much of conservative ideology and its diehard adherents are so far gone that they're beyond addressing. I'd be wasting my breath. They wouldn't even read my comment in the first place, so I'm more interested in speaking to the people that will.
Mostly me. I think there are some universal wrongs here that bother me, but I also think those have to be kept in perspective. I think dunking on dead people on HCA is wrong, but I also think that many of the HCA recipients are more in the wrong because many of them have genuinely taken steps that put others in harms way. I think part of what is troubling for me in general is that things have gotten so sided that we only view things in opposites, so that something opposed to something bad is automatically good, instead of also potentially bad, just in a different way. I think divorcing ourselves from the humanity of others is a bad thing but then I go back to the idea that, am I really divorcing myself from the humanity of some of these people when they refuse to show humanity in the first place? I don't know.
I'll toss this out there as food for thought: One reason toxic masculinity persists is that it's not sufficient for men to ignore the toxicity when encountered, but it must be called out and derided as such, especially in a "safe space" where all participants are men. I recall reading this in a much more eloquent manner before, and my wife has also echoed as much in different words.
The way I think of it is that there are real life problems, and then there is the Internet, where we talk about them, voluntarily, and with a bit of distance. The distance is important since it adds perspective. Also, while some people write in haste, written communication is normally very deliberate. We don’t need to bring things into the conversation if we don’t want to. We can try to be better.
It’s far from that ideal, but r/HermanCainAward doesn’t bother me too much. It’s sort of useful as a historical record. I don’t normally read it, but I’ve followed links to conversations with medical professionals that I think were worth reading. And people going there know what they’re in for. It’s easy to avoid.
The nonsense that Loire has to put up with at work is a whole different story.
Thank you for this perspective.
This post reminds me of what I truly want in life - to surround myself with loving people. People who care for each other. People who educate each other. People who talk about the things they like. People who celebrate when their friends and loved ones are happy or accomplish things in their life.
In the early 2000s I remember being absolutely sucked into the raver mentality, succinctly and accurately captured by the acronym PLUR - Peace, love, unity, respect. The people I met and made friends with were truly embodying these ideals. We went to raves to forgot about society. To forget about the pain and the suffering. To forget how people can be mean and rude and upsetting and demeaning and callous and disrespectful. For a few sweet hours we could all connect with the music and each other and celebrate all that is wonderful in life. We didn't just come to meet and connect with others, we came to share - we gave each other bracelets, massages, conversations and smiles. We left feeling refreshed and ready to face the world again.
I was disconnected from this scene for awhile due to various circumstances in my life. I guess I shouldn't be surprised I found it again. But I found another community too, along this journey, by reconnecting to my fellow queers. While writing this post I realized something I'm not sure I came to respect and understand until just now - part of the reason I enjoy spending my time with other queers is that we're so desperate to have spaces where we wont be discriminated against that it's easy to find queers who accept other queers. It's easy to find people who don't want to focus on the negative, but rather work towards a collective good. To marvel in each others presence, to celebrate individual victories as a community, to share love and understanding and to be there for each other when any one of us is hurting.
I have spent the last 3 years of my life drastically changing how I interact with the world. I've focused on reconnecting with the rave scene, of people who embody PLUR mentality and queers who are there to support each other. Looking at the person I was before this careful and considerate arrangement of my life and I see a hollow shell. I wasn't unaware of how my environment was so drastically shaping my mood, my outlook, my skepticism, my general thoughts on the world. My takes haven't changed - I still think humanity is fucked and that humans were a mistake, but I no longer feel burdened by a world which discriminates against people deserving of love. Instead, I'm reminded of the small acts of love and compassion that happen every day. I'm reminded that humans are capable of so much when we work together in harmony - when we focus on the positive things in life and when we help each other when we're down.
Globalism is a two headed beast. It's helped people connect with each other across barriers, often entirely of human creation, at a rate we've never experienced as humans. I'm absolutely filled with joy when I see my younger peers confused and upset with their elders when it comes to the various kinds of human created bigotry based on how we act. Globalism has accelerated humanism in a way I never thought possible. However, globalism has also created an ever increasing gap in human experience. The powerful are only even more entrenched and their weaponry has grown ever more sophisticated. They seek to divide us, to make us squabble, to make us pick fights over trivial matters. They sow disinformation and keep us fighting as an excuse to grow more powerful and to have humans fight their battles.
Your post was a reminder that it doesn't have to be this way. It reminds me that even though on first pass I often find myself happy when the intolerant get a dose of their own medicine that it is not the correct path. That it is not the world I'm trying to create for the ones I love and it is an inspiration to be better. Disdain, contempt, and hate have no place on the world I wish to inhabit. I want to thank you for the reminder that compassion, love, education, understanding, and respect are always more important.
Too often on the internet these days, we get ridiculed or punished for outwardly displaying kindness, compassion, and empathy, to those who the internet community has deemed unworthy. But I will always believe that the more hateful and ignorant a person is, the more they need these things in their life. You don't end a cycle of pain of suffering by adding more pain and suffering to the equation. Human nature has this uncanny ability to want to cling to negative states of mind like anger and ignorance despite how destructive they can be and how detached they can make you to other's. It takes a conscious effort to overcome those feelings.
Unrelated to the topic at hand; sometimes I wish I was less cynical me and more compassionate you, mate.
It's in very poor taste.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, and assume that most of your co-workers remain unvaccinated.
More and more, this kind of "right to be stupid" argument feels just like the old arguments about smoking in enclosed public areas like work, restaurants, airplanes, etc. And it seems like exactly the same legal argument, re second-hand smoke ... people who do not get vaccinated are endangering the lives of people around them. It's not quite the same, because a smoker can stop long enough to go to work or be in a restaurant, but you cannot become "temporarily vaccinated".
Nevertheless, I think there's a very strong case for banning unvaccinated people from a wide variety of indoor-public areas. Unfortunately, I also expect it'll be at least a decade (or two) before such laws come into play.
Maybe one day they'll be immortalized in a subreddit.
Thank you. I'll admit to having perused the subreddits in question, with a mixed sense of guilt and cathartic relief, partially as a bit of self-therapy. I'm so tired of getting side-eye for taking this seriously, and even more sick of the fact that it has driven a wedge into an existing rift in my family and cleaved the tenuous connection that remained.
I've been the outcast of the family for my (lack of) religious beliefs and political beliefs, seriously outnumbered (other than my wife and kids) at all family gatherings, always the ones who have to bite their tongues to make peace, but we finally got fed up and spoke our minds, and told them that until they get vaccinated we will NOT be visiting, but of course, we're the evil ones. My daughter made an attempt, tried to visit once, was chastised by the entire group for refusing to remove her mask, and had to listen to them drone on and on about Trump (while they wore the modern-day Confederate Flag [aka, blue line] on their clothing, MAGA hats, etc) and as they insisted on repeatedly calling it the China Virus -- my daughter is half Asian, but when I confronted them about that they merely got defensive and loudly insisted that nobody in the family is racist. That's funny, let's see... they threatened to disown me in high school when they found a picture that I had of a black friend that she'd written "I love you" on the back, they drove away my best friend in high school because they suspected that he was gay (not racism, but the same bigotry), they had a fit when my first wife was Asian, then when I remarried we overheard "I can't believe that he's living with a Jew!" at a family gathering, called people from Muslim countries "enemies of our country" (my daughter-in-law, married to the son of my Jewish wife, is from such a country)... yep, totally 100% not racists.
I've resigned myself to the fact that I may never see them again. My mother is in her 60s and has been a life-long smoker, and my dad is in his late 80s, living in a small town with an abysmal vaccination rate.
Maybe it would be better if we just had list of public figures whom have died from COVID, along with notable speeches they've made. An online obituary of sorts.
And divide that list into two columns, those who were not vaccinated and those who were. Bet you a nickle one side would be a lot bigger.
Then report on it neutrally as such: "Today's new COVID deaths: 1 vaccinated, 100 un-vaccinated."
Keeping score. Kinda helps push a narrative that objective reality supersedes subjective feeling when it comes to things like disease and vaccines.
You're right though....the proverbial well has been poisoned and as such the only solution is to not drink from the well anymore.
@Loire, I know you work in the petrochemical industry, but I don’t know what level of education you or your coworkers are. I’m curious to see if there is a similar divide in terms of education for you as there is for me in the nuke sector. About 3/4 of my engineering coworkers (bachelor’s or above) coworkers are vaccinated, versus maybe half my coworkers in other work groups (operations, rad protection, maintenance, etc)(generally less than a bachelor’s).
Here's a really clear illustration of this from today: COVID-19 vaccination uptake by health zone in Alberta
The two major cities: 77.6% and 78.6%
Everywhere else: 56.9%, 60.0%, and 67.1%
And the effect of that is in the previous tweet showing the difference between the hospitalization rates in the areas.
This was also posted 5 days ago in last weeks recurring COVID topic, for anyone interested in reading the other comments about it there:
I'm not pleased that these people are dying. I think celebration is in poor taste, and I think harassing their families is monstrous. But... I'm not particularly inclined to defend them either.
The impression I get is that the HCA is for people who aren't JUST ignorant, but who contribute to a massive disinformation campaign out of what seems to be sheer spite. They aren't JUST hurting themselves, they are prolonging a pandemic which has already left millions of people dead: spreading the disease to vulnerable people, collectively taking up so many resources when they do get sick that medical staff are becoming traumatized by stress and others are left without appropriate care. They are not JUST anxious, they are frequently rude and abusive to the very people working to literally save their lives with policy, information, science, enforcement, and direct care.
I don't personally feel any sense of comeuppance or karma from all of this either. It's just that these communities have been in a parallel reality based around the denial of basic facts for literally years, even pre-pandemic, and they are finally brushing up against a fact that won't bend no matter how much they lie about it. You might be able to lie about the results of an election enough, and if enough people want to believe it, that's a step towards making the truth of the matter irrelevant. But a virus? In real life if there is a deadly contagious virus going around and you do nothing to protect yourself or your community, you are more likely to catch it and die no matter how much you try to claim it is harmless. Is it karma if you touch a hot stove and get burned?
We've given them information. Some very smart and heroic scientists have made them a pretty effective vaccine. They refused it all and they died, likely as a direct result of their own obstinance. That's just the truth. What's left?
I'm not going to pretend to be a good, empathetic person. Nearly every one of these award winners was a massive problem for society, and they're problems that ultimately took care of themselves, and that makes me happy.
I do feel empathy for the unvaccinated who were nervous but kept it to themselves. I feel none whatsoever for those who tried to dissuade others from taking it. Good riddance.
yeah, this is where I'm at as well.
the US hit 500,000 covid deaths in February (and this is certainly an undercount, the only question is by how much). that was before widespread availability of the vaccine.
I used up all my empathy on those half-million pre-vaccine deaths. my "empathy savings account" has run out.
now I'm forced to budget my empathy much more carefully. if someone not only chooses to not get vaccinated, but chooses to spread anti-vax misinformation - they're getting exactly zero of my remaining empathy.
Cheers for choosing not to give a fuck. There's this implicit lie in modern social justice that we should strive to care about everything. We know empirically we just aren't wired for that.
Myself I still have empathy for the ignorant. It's a limited budget but it's there :) I have to, I know some of these people.
That said, the HCA subreddit is an expression of inevitable feelings. I think the cathartic value outweighs any negatives.
And even if it doesn't, it's the internet, best not to take it too seriously. People suck more online, looking at it with the same filters you apply to the rest of life is a free ticket to misanthropia.
The writer just needed an angle to approach a story, he picked social justice as his angle.
Side note: I've seen more than one vaccine card selfie post in the HCA subreddit, titled some version of "I'm taking myself out of contention for the HCA". Seems like a useful form of indirect social pressure.
For those interested, the admins just pushed out a whole host of new rules against r/HermanCainAward, likely due to this article. All posts now have to be completely wiped of personal identification, including first names and profile pictures.
This sounds completely reasonable, and I'm honestly shocked this wasn't already a rule for the sub, and yet everyone there seems to be calling for revolution over it. I do not get this.
I mean they did already require the majority if PI to be covered. The only thing they allowed was first names and profile pics, which seems pretty reasonable imo.
If people are still managing to harass families, then there needs to be more restrictions instated. The Reddit admins made the right call.
It's not stopping anyone from finding them because everything is backed up multiple times to multiple websites and the reason they have screenshots in the first place is because the posts are public.
As indicated in the SRD thread, they aren't stopping the identification in the slightest. There are going to be bad actors, always have been, always will be, but banning it doesn't make it go away. The restrictions haven't stopped anything as the exact same steps someone that was going to harass a family took previously are the same ones they'll go through now.
It's just another "media made us look bad" response from reddit admins.
Is that always true? Facebook posts often aren’t public. It seems like someone who had access like a friend-of-a-friend could have copied it?
Being that the posts are put together post-covid-related-death and the bad actors in the sub are finding the accounts to make comments on them: Nope, they're public.
The problem with anger is not being more or less justified. The problem is that it is a bottomless pit. When promptly replaced by more productive sentiments, anger can be very useful as a starter. When we let it run wild, it becomes a fire that consumes itself leaving nothing in its place. You are free to become fire and burn with it. You are also free to take a deep breath and do something instead.
Funny how the people who preach personal responsibility the most are the same people who are taking the least responsibility for their personal health and the health of their communities.
Sounds to me like a potential special sub-category of the Darwin Awards.
Indeed, with the unfortunate caveat that many of these people have already spread their genes by reproducing.
Disclaimer: I am part of the /r/HermanCainAward community, though I rarely comment and never post.
Difference is, obesity is not contagious, and it has no chance to change into some kind of super-obesity for the rest of us who try to prevent obesity.
They are actively disrupting society, therefore it is very understandable for society to jeer at them. Coddling the subjects of HCA will kill us all.
While I don't disagree with some of the general statements you've provided about how obesity and how humans socialize can make it harder to have healthy habits I have some serious issues with the article you just linked.
There are so many jumps in logic and abstractions present in this paper I hardly know where to begin. Understanding the actual results of this paper require a deep knowledge of medicine, the study of the spread of disease states, and statistics. Honestly, I'm not even certain I'm qualified to comment much upon this other than to say that it's an interesting thought process and very clearly an example of researchers trying to practically invent an entirely new field of behavioral population health (? not sure what to call this).
Rather than attempting to break this study apart piece by piece, I'm going to focus on one section in particular as a showcase of how little these researchers know about the actual dynamics of what is going on (which is entirely understandable, this is an incredibly complex problem to model, let alone simulate). In the section on social discrimination, you'll notice a heavy use of soft language such as words like "may" and "can". They utilize ideas such as "inspired by" to "introduce" a parameter. Note that these are not sourced - this is the authors attempting to model a concept that they likely could not find elsewhere. This is the first attempts at the generation of a model.
Pay close attention to the graph they present and what is actually going on in this section. I'll include a brief quote about what is going on to set some context:
They have literally graphed possibilities at equal distance from ineradicable to eradicable. So we're talking about everything from absolutely zero social discrimination to maximum social discrimination. It's telling that they don't even know where the appropriate range is, let alone where populations might actually exist. They've entirely fabricated an environmental factor and taken a look at ways it might affect a projection of data. Theoretically speaking, I think there is decent evidence that this factor likely exists (they do have a single source for this, albeit it is based on a relatively small response survey data set) and it's important for someone to take a stab at attempting to model this before projecting accurate results, but the fact that they synthesize this in the model AND project in the same paper feels like a bit of an overstep. Ideally I would like to see someone verify or validate this against some real data before attempting to project against the model.
Finally I'd like to spend a second focusing on the discussion section, where you can often best understand the authors intent. There are no sweeping statements. In fact, nearly all of the statements use incredibly soft language for a scientific paper. The last few sentences really spell out what this is meant to be - a stab in the dark, something to be built upon with further study
The statement 'obesity is a social contagion' is simply not supported. This is a model attempting to quantify obesity as a social contagion and how various factors might contribute to this perception.
It's a great example of why psychology is an ultra soft science, epicenter of the reproducibility crisis.
It's good that we study it, we can learn things from it, but it's mistake to think of it in the same way we think of other fields of research.
I don't think the fat-shaming analogy works all that well. Getting vaccinated can be scary for people who are afraid of needles but it's still much, much easier than losing weight. There are last-mile challenges in making vaccinations convenient but ultimately, it it's a one-time thing (or twice, really). Weight loss is never going to be so convenient. You can't just "get it over with," it's a lifestyle change.
On the other hand you don't really have people buying into an ideology that says losing weight is dangerous or against their principles.
So yes, they are both difficult, but in different ways.
Thank you for spending the time to clarify this. The way I read into the statement "obesity is a social contagion" was the argument that shaming works, one of the many reasons I wanted to rip into that paper being linked.
Absolutely! It can be incredibly frustrating and emotionally taxing to engage with people who hold a different viewpoint than yours, especially when the stakes are so high, but as you said being accusatory or trying to shame them will make them go on the defensive and will win over approximately nobody.
At the end of the day the only way to change this is to educate, and the only way to educate is to connect. You connect by making people feel heard, which means sitting down and listening to their concerns. It means that rather than provide a solution, you need to question them and open them up to the idea of alternative viewpoints. It means pointing them in the direction to educate themselves. It means helping them to challenge their own assumptions (this one is particularly difficult as it is hard to do this, especially when one's worldview is built upon these assumptions and it means rethinking much about life).
Hence inadequate comparison. And even then, that assumes that the premise is correct.
Evidence is they themselves dying, which we documented in our subreddit. Whether they could accept such evidence is on them, not us.
We should not coddle them from reality by preventing social control like you do here, especially when they, anti-vaxxers, have prolonged the disruption to our lives, and potentially kill us all.
In comparison to gay people mentioned above, who people identify of or have sex with do not generally disrupt society to the point that the economic wheel is slowed down.
HIV spread requires negligience in blood-testing and/or participation in an activity (so agreed-upon mutual activity except on rape) alongside with negligience in protection. People who keep saying those things now have chosen their conclusions and walking backwards to formulate their response.
Furthermore, back then (and maybe even now) we don't have a vaccine for HIV. We didn't jeer anyone who dies of COVID before vaccines are available for everyone.
Again, not one-to-one. False equivalence you got there.
Ironically enough thanks to the pandemic and the rapid development of mRNA vaccine technology that it helped spur, we may actually have an HIV vaccine soon enough: Human Trials for HIV Vaccine Created With mRNA Technology to Begin
Well there was one close to that a while ago, it got pretty big, then it got banned because it really crossed in to weird mean spiteful territory, and probably doxxing/harassment? Started out (r/fatpeoplehate by the way) the same way though.
I can't say I have much of an opinion or feelings toward the subreddit, I can see why people like the cathartic feeling of making fun of the subjects, but at the same time I don't particularly like joining in a crowd of cheering on people dying.
The one post from there that stuck with me, that I just remembered having seen, was one where it was a mother of four children who died -- and it was the standard "adamantly won't take the vaccine won't let her kids take it" yadda yadda -- but it was spun in a way that was also kind of....smug? celebratory? slightly gleeful? about her dying and leaving behind four motherless kids. There is a line you can cross in cheering on some notion of karmic retribution (about people winning the "award" by dying) where you also actively dismiss the actual suffering (even if self-inflicted) involved in the situation. In x years those kids will still have a mother that died, and they'll have to live with that pain.
Catharsis means purification by emotion. Like we feel in the end of Spielberg's E.T., or The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Sexual climax is an example: intensification followed by blissful resolution. We go through an intense emotional crysis to achieve rewarding completion in the end. This subreddit, as is common on Reddit, is about aggravation, not purification. Not in the slightest. There is no release.