The Internet is the backbone of modern society. It shapes our communication, how we shop, how and by what we are entertained, and even our politics. Those who were born and raised within its time, they have access to knowledge and wisdom that was for many millennia not only impossible to the average person but also reserved for those with decades of life behind them. Such a leg up; a silver spoon, if you will.
The impacts of such access have been undeniably positive. Year after year you have younger and younger people partaking in the shaping of our society and shedding the baggage which would have them perpetuate the ills of previous generations*. If only this was the only narrative, or even the strongest one. Unfortunately, the average internet user does not spend their time becoming better informed or innocently consuming** internet-generated media. Instead, there seems to be a tremendous rise in the type of person who insists to categorise all content on the Internet into two boxes: things I vehemently agree with and things I hate!
To this type of person, nuance is flattened into any binary that best fits their narrative. A narrative whose purpose is to place them in the starring role of any story. This is often manifested as people responding to abstracted information as if it were the originating content. Turning a silver spoon to one coated in lead. Take this personal interaction for example:
- I went to my local Clicks to pick up my prescription of Ozempic and I found out we were once again experiencing a shortage and thus new stock is still being awaited. This was deeply disappointing because this usually indicates a global shortage and that I could be waiting for months for my next dose.
- My disappointment quickly builds to anger because these global shortages are not solely due to production or logistics issues, they are due to healthy able-bodied people electively using a life-saving insulin medicine. Why would healthy able-bodied be using insulin medicine you wonder? Weight-loss. A quick Google search yields articles such as, "Six-Month Ozempic Shortage Mostly Over After Weight-Loss Craze Drained Supply... People with diabetes struggle to find Ozempic as it soars in popularity as a weight loss aid... Ozempic prescriptions can be easy to get online. Its popularity for weight loss is hurting those who need it most..." Upsetting, to say the least.
- Angered, I proceed to record a video for my TikTok with the following context; there is a shortage of Ozempic, which is used to manage insulin resistance, following 3 years of unexplained weight gain*** while eating well and exercising I learned that I was pre-diabetic, the shortage is being caused by elective use from healthy able-bodied people, and then I use an insulting phrase towards those people, "eat a salad and let other find better ways to live."
- Would you assume I had people rallying behind me at learning of this injustice that is befalling people due to the misuse of a life-saving drug? You would be partially right. Some people were instantly able to understand that this video which started with the words, "Can I rant? I'mma rant for a bit..." was made with anger and frustration directed at the misuse of a life-saving drug by healthy people. Still, for some people, my use of "eat a salad" was a step too far. I empathise with people who have had phrases such as "... just eat better! ... you should be eating a salad!" weaponised against them by people who arrogantly flatten the nuance of weight loss to calorie-in-calorie-out.
- Upon realising the potential to needlessly offend those who already suffer from what is often willful ignorance, I made 2 more videos clarifying how I understand how that phrase can be loaded for those who've had it weaponised against them and how this video is in no way directed at them, along with an apology. Do you think that helped? Not much.
- I've come to learn and relearn that some people seek to be offended and you can not dissuade them once they've made that decision. How did I come to learn that this time? I began responding to comments, both clarifying and seeking understanding. To my surprise, those responses and further questioning changed nothing, even when people had admitted to realising that what they had assumed was not what I'd said, they sought other theories to better support their outrage instead of simply taking back their initial statements.
- This all culminated with one commenter expressing their disgust at how I was attacking obese people, how I did not want them to get help and lastly and most shockingly, how I was fatphobic. That interaction marked the last time I responded to anyone and made me realise that most negative comments were not coming from people seeking to make good-faith arguments, because, in their minds, you are with them or against them.
I am very grateful that I was reminded of this phenomenon. Even greater, I am grateful that I am back to health after struggling to kick the "flu" for 3-weeks. Health is our most prized possession, for without it all else doesn't matter. Extending your lifespan without your healthspan is an instrument of torture, the same goes for endlessly burning your health in the quest for monetary wealth. What does it all matter if you cannot use it? That is why I will always be upset at people electively using drugs not aimed at them, especially when there is a real consequence to many lives at their shortage when we have the knowledge of the world in our pockets.
- * It's easy to paint previous generations as evil when you become burdened to resolve their mistakes, but it is important to realise that each generation does the best with the tools afforded to them. The progress achieved by one generation is almost always enabled by generations past.
- ** Innocense is a highly nuanced and loaded word. Here I use it to note how some people consume media with ignorance of its broader meaning and intent but would be open to better understanding given the opportunity.
- *** 3 years is a long time and thus one would assume that it is clear that much is being omitted when it is summarised in a single statement. One would assume wrong.