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Fearmongering and social media

 
pollinator
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In the past few days I have seen a few posts on social media - I won't repeat them here - that are spreading false rumours about coronavirus. In particular, there are some going around about scammers praying on vulnerable people, and all of them are stating categorically that it is happening now and in our "local community".

None of them have given any evidence that this is actually true - no police reports, no individuals saying it has happened to them. It is always some unknown third party.

I've dug into a few to try and figure out the origins of them. One was a rehash into english of a warning originally in spanish that was posted as a written notice on a community notice board in spain! It arrived in the UK, in my local community as "this is happening now, here... isn't it appalling. Make sure your protect people by warning them".

It is so frustrating that at a time of crisis when communities really need to come together to support and trust each other that others are mindlessly repeating and reposting these messages that seem designed to instill fear and panic.

PLEASE verify this stuff before sharing. It is potentially incredibly harmful, and could end up with vulnerable people even more fearful and isolated than needed.
 
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Hi Michael,

Which is why I avoid the major social media sites.  Here and a heavily moderated amateur astronomy site is as close as I get.
 
Michael Cox
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I’ve just been engaged with someone on our local community group about this. I challenged them based on fear mongering towards vulnerable older people. Her response was to link to a single online newspaper article... from a region of the country over 200 miles away.

Gist of the article “local councillor warns of gangs of scammers targeting the vulnerable”.

Councillor in question quotes as her source “something I saw on Facebook said...”

The circularity of what they were linking to seemed to elude them!
 
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There's a lot of things to be afraid of right now.  fear can be useful.  But fear alone, isn't.  

Use the fear and transform it into action.  There are so many things we can do to make our lives better in these trying times.

- wash your hands
- be outside as much as possible (sunlight and fresh air are enemies of viruses as well as being good for mental and physical health)
- while outside, think about this year's garden.  What staple foods can you grow?
- reach out to people that are feeling alone or isolated- a phone call, text, anything to help them feel connected.
- remember your neighbours
- use the time at home to do those renovations you've been putting off (I bought a couple of gallons of paint yesterday)
- use the time at home to try that thing you always wanted to
- turn off the news and negative media for at least 4 hours a day and put on your favourite record/CD/mp3 track as loud as it will play
- spring clean the house (especially windows to get as much sunlight in the house as possible)
- make arrangements with local shops to order by phone or email and then pick up at the back door so you don't have to interact with too many random humans, but still supporting local businesses and keep the food system strong.
- take your favourite permies project and share it on social media to help remind others there are things they can do to retain control of their life.

We can be afraid.  Fear is healthy... until it isn't.  The key is to transform that fear to something proactive.



 
pollinator
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Hallelujah!!! And nope, I am not religious! I have spent countless hours of late desperately trying to defuse all sorts of ridiculous posts, locally.  Everyone seems to feel the need to catastrophize - I have coined the term, PANICdemic.

One of my best sources has been R Ranson, thank you for being a voice of reason and fact! Nice to know at least one fellow Islander "gets it".
 
r ranson
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Most of us haven't lived through a tough time like this.  Fortunately, I live with someone who survived a war, a depression, the cold war, various recessions since then, and other scary times of scarcity.  It helps to have the experience to give perspective.  

For me, I'm pretty scared.  But as a child, I listened to my grandparents and elders tell me about tough times.  About how the subscription to the magazine or newspaper was based on absorbancy rather than the content.  About how growing food got them through rationing and provided a vital bartering power in their community.  ... and so on and so forth, all ending in one vital lesson: No matter how bad things get, there is always something you can do.

We get stuck in the fear, we forget that we can take action as individuals, not just to make our own lives better, but to help our flockmates and community.  We are in this together.  

And, if you are busy planting a garden and taking positive action, it cuts down on spare worry time.  
 
Michael Cox
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r ranson wrote:Most of us haven't lived through a tough time like this.  Fortunately, I live with someone who survived a war, a depression, the cold war, various recessions since then, and other scary times of scarcity.  It helps to have the experience to give perspective.  



Our family who lived through those experiences - particularly my grandmother - are actually being very difficult. They lived through those experiences and have a "we don't let these things stop us" attitude. Think British Blitz survivors - they could be bombed all night and still have the milk delivered on time in the morning. we are having a hard time persuading them to take these things seriously. We talked her out of attending duplicate bridge club (40 people in a room, swapping tables every 10 minutes and passing playing cards around)... so she went to the cinema instead!
 
r ranson
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That's another way of transforming fear into action and taking back control of your life.

I found when I lived with my grandfather, the key was to redirect the energy instead of trying to block it.  Asking him not to do something was the best way to get him to do something worse and more dangerous.  But ask him to help with a project or do something that will contribute to the wellbeing of the house was a great way to keep him out of trouble.

If you live near her, maybe you could ask her to show you how they used to garden or cook.  Give the energy new direction because if she lived through the blitz, she knows the best way to let Them win is to stop fighting.  
 
pollinator
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Based on watching a few Kitboga videos, it seems that store bought gift cards are scammers currency of choice. Since people are more reluctant to go to stores these days, one would think that the number of scams is likely at an all time low these days.
 
John F Dean
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Hi John,

I turned 70 a few months ago. Apparently, that means I have lost my intelligence.  I have been flooded with emails and phone calls by caring people who wish to protect me .   It is amazing, the can protect me from SS fraud if I give them my SS number,. Of course, they are also willing to protect my checking account and credit cards as well.  I have never felt so protected.
 
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Michael Cox wrote:I’ve just been engaged with someone on our local community group about this. I challenged them based on fear mongering towards vulnerable older people. Her response was to link to a single online newspaper article... from a region of the country over 200 miles away.

Gist of the article “local councillor warns of gangs of scammers targeting the vulnerable”.

Councillor in question quotes as her source “something I saw on Facebook said...”



This is a subset of what I see as perhaps the second or third or fourth greatest problem of our times: information hygiene and the increasing difficulty of maintaining it.  

A lie, it is said, will travel a thousand miles while the truth is still putting its boots on.

In a highly-online world, this problem just keeps getting worse.  

I don't have any grandiose solutions to offer.  I only know that an increasing proportion of my available cognitive cycles is getting consumed with information hygiene tasks.  Figuring out which sources to trust, reading skeptically, considering sourcing, avoiding clickbait headlines and photo clicktraps, pushing back against misinformation, that sort of thing.  

I am sometimes tempted to despair, by the obvious fact that so many people seem to pay no attention whatsoever to their information hygiene.  But I try to remain compassionate, too, because it's effortful and just hard.   I'm good at this sort of tasks and I've seen the problem grow from a handful of spam emails in my inbox (circa 1994) and periodic Nigerian Prince postal mail scam attempts, to the overwhelming drink-from-a-dirty-firehose shitshow that it is today.  If I'm overwhelmed, nobody's having an easy time of it.  
 
Lorinne Anderson
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I have (ugh!), for the first time, activated a dormant FB account to specifically deal with this locally. I don't argue or fight, but I do post the truth, with links to where I got my supporting information. I hate to use this reference, but back in the 1930's, propaganda was used in a small European country that innocuously taught fear and hate to the unsuspecting masses, eventually leading to the Second World War and untold atrocities.  

It is our DUTY to stand up and call out those who spread misinformation, fear and hate, IMO. We cannot stand by and let rumour, lies, and insanity flourish. To ignore this is to give it unspoken approval, allows those propagating of this nonsense to win and continue to spread their message. I implore everyone who can, to stand up and be counted as a fighter for truth, honesty, kindness, and compassion.
 
John F Dean
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Wait a minute! Are you telling me the Nigerian Prince is a scam???!  Back in Jr. High I observed that people would rather believe a lie rather than the truth.  The truth is normally pretty boring. A lie can have virtually an unlimited number of embellishments.
 
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I've was dealing with these sames issues in our Neighbourhood Watch group on WhatsApp.  People were posting videos and images of civil unrest and home invasions, stories about grocery stores shutting their doors and new outbreaks; even neighbours trying to frighten others in to buying masks from them at inflated prices.  Seems like no one cared to do any due diligence to check sources, or verify if the statements were true (not surprising, none were accurate) - so irresponsible.  I think a lot of the content was coming from facebook and folks were just blindly reposting to our group.

I felt some kind of duty(?) to my neighbours to attempt to and shutdown the panic that it was creating, by tracking-down the sources of the content and showing how it was either fake, or old news, or was something that happened in another part of the world, but after a few months of trying to do this, I finally gave-up and left the group.
 
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r ranson wrote:That's another way of transforming fear into action and taking back control of your life.

I found when I lived with my grandfather, the key was to redirect the energy instead of trying to block it.  Asking him not to do something was the best way to get him to do something worse and more dangerous.  But ask him to help with a project or do something that will contribute to the wellbeing of the house was a great way to keep him out of trouble.

If you live near her, maybe you could ask her to show you how they used to garden or cook.  Give the energy new direction because if she lived through the blitz, she knows the best way to let Them win is to stop fighting.  



This is exactly the tactic I use with my father in law. Lol.

My husband gets so frustrated with his dad he will eventually lose his cool and openly criticise him, but then the old guy gets huffy and goes and does even more that we dont want him to. My tactic has been more subtle. I gave him extra seedlings this year, and from our one socially-distanced backyard get together, I went around the house and talked about what flowers I could divide to share with him, and pointed out how his "little house" (his shed) and the bench he made in front of it really needs restaining. Now the last three weeks my MIL says he has stayed at home and out of trouble, busy making a new area for some more flower bulbs they had, and has been faithfully sanding down and staining not only the bench and the shed, but also their sunroom, and now his cedar planters.

He is just about finish so I will have to make another trip to his garden with some plants and make comments about how his exterior doors look like they need a fresh coat of paint and the sliding door need to be recaulked. Haha. Poor bugger. But it is working well to keep him safe and out of trouble, and he loves gloating to me on the phone that now his little house looks so much more beautiful than mine, he made a new cedar window box for it, and his tomatoes are growing bigger than mine, etc. ;)
 
John F Dean
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It is virtually always better to ask for someone's  help rather than to give orders.
 
pollinator
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A couple of women in a city here had refurbished old buses into campers and were planning to start traveling around the country in them. They've had to stop as people saw their buses (which they'd painted black) and thought it was buses of black people come to riot. That fear mongering went totally viral in my state so much so that the women were on the news explaining they were campers and now they've had to postpone their plans.
 
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the permaculture bootcamp in winter
https://permies.com/t/149839/permaculture-projects/permaculture-bootcamp-winter
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