BOOMER TALK: Are you Sheeple?

Columist Carole Fawcett takes a closer look at herd mentality amid COVID-19 pandemic

Vernon Morning Star columnist Carole Fawcett hopes boomers and seniors will share personal stories for a potential book. (File photo)

Sheeple. It’s a relatively new term and when I first heard it, I thought it was catchy and clever.

Basically it refers to a herd mentality, kind of like peer pressure when we were teens.

It is bandied about with some regularity by those who feel the rules around COVID-19 are part of a conspiracy theory to control others.

The conspiracy theorists do not believe they are the sheeple. Excuse me, but “baah,” you are.

But you may know what I mean.

Denying the proven science of COVID-19, (which includes wearing a mask) has become their belief. These same sheeple (oops, I mean people) think COVID-19 is “just the flu.”

There are even more ridiculous beliefs that follow those two. I guess there are those who believe the world is flat too.

David Black, a communications theorist at Royal Roads University in Victoria, said, “Conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus can trigger fears, prejudices and irrational actions, but evidence and truth are powerful anti-conspiracy forces.”

There is a new idea (not really that new to Boomers) that to be a more accepting and loving society, we must allow people to have their own opinions without judgment from others. It isn’t the opinion I rail against, it is the misinformation that is being spread and that could hurt our democracy.

There is a difference between proven scientific information and magical thinking and it doesn’t even enter the realm of opinion.

Currently, there have been 30 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with close to 200,000 cases in the United States.

History is our teacher.

When Hitler was on earth promoting his evilness, it was believed he was not rounding up Jews and sending them to camps, despite it happening under everyone’s noses. They didn’t speak up and we know what happened. Six million were killed by silence. It is called the Holocaust.

Silence allows misinformation to be promoted. It changes the integrity of our communication. It is not golden.

Like propaganda, repetitive misinformation on social media overrides people’s reasoning ability. Those who are not discerning about sources of information will believe almost anything is true.

They are the real sheeple you might say. “Baah.”

There is an excellent documentary on Netflix at the moment.

It is called the Social Dilemma and it speaks directly to how various social media platforms can influence your thinking. If you are a parent or grandparent, in fact, anyone, please watch this.

It is an eye opener about the power of social media and the influence it has on its users.

The algorithms (an algorithm is a set of instructions designed to perform a specific task) are set so that every time you click on something on social media your information will be entered in such a way that you will only receive new information that agrees with your point of view.

This can falsely influence the ideas or thoughts you have already expressed. If you are a conspiracy theorist you may be clicking all sorts of scientifically incorrect information. As a result of the algorithm, you will receive even more of it – thereby compounding the misinformation you believe is correct.

If you hear yourself or any members of your family saying “Baah,” try to change that to an intelligently sourced, scientifically proven knowledge base and say “Aha.”

Carole Fawcett is a freelance writer, life coach, humourist.

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