Boys, Frogs and Social Networks | Featured columnists
In Aesop’s fable, “The Boys and the Frogs,” some boys started throwing stones in a pond and killed several frogs. Finally, one of the frogs spoke up and said to the boys, “Please stop, what amuses you is death for us!” “
Last week I had some moans online about my example of “The Grasshopper and the Ant”. To be frank, most of my reviews fall into the categories of young boys throwing rocks into a pond. Either they’re not following a logical, rational conversation on an important topic, or they’re hiding behind stupid fake internet usernames. We live in a democratic society, if you have a contrary opinion please express it. On the other hand, a lot of my detractors are just cowards with false names.
Last week a good friend called me from the hospital. He was fully immunized months ago, is around 70 years old and has several serious health problems. Throughout the pandemic, he was very careful and did not engage in risky behaviors. About two weeks ago, two of his family, including a young child, came to a large gathering. Both family members ended up with COVID-19 and a week later he contracted it as well. There were no rooms available at the hospital and he was able to return home after a few hours. Within a day, he was back in the hospital and had to be admitted due to low oxygen levels. Even though he has been fully vaccinated, due to his poor health, he is very ill.
I don’t blame anyone for it and I don’t think my friend either. But immature people like to throw stones and they hurt people. There is nothing new about this concept. Several times a year, I lead discussions with students on an essay called “The Tragedy of the Commons”. This is because people are often motivated by arrogance, narcissism, greed or selfishness, but they may not do these things with meanness.
Many years ago I did a study on online blogs sponsored by local news agencies. These web boards were filled with all kinds of nonsense. Using a common research method called content analysis, I was able to categorize and group the people who posted. I then compared them to real names and writings. The results were amazing. One person, a community professional, had over 40 different usernames. He complimented himself, argued and tried to irritate people all the time. I still use social media today to show students how to hunt down dumb people. It is not very hard.
At the start of the pandemic, I was thinking of a bifurcation policy. Essentially, keeping the very vulnerable separate from the little boys throwing stones. We have such a diverse multigenerational community that it would be very difficult. I think keeping young people away from their vulnerable grandparents could be part of the equation. We’ll see where it goes over the next three months.
Ron McNinch teaches in the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Guam.