The pandemic that started in ~2008 and is still uncontained.

COVID started in 2020, but a deadlier pandemic has been spreading over the last 12 years or more. We see manifestations of it in recent uprisings, terrorism, politics, elections, and in the internet and real-life conversations. Its symptoms are dissatisfaction, tribalism, hate, violence, and a lack of cooperation and progress. It is the virus of disinformation and division.

The virus spreads through human vulnerability to engage, believe, and share shocking lies that appeal to their theories, sense of righteousness, or sow doubt in the morals and actions of "the others" to blame for their real or imagined miseries. 

The virus slowly then suddenly destroys the antibodies of rationality and empathy, replacing them with escalating levels of tribalism, hate, and anger. The infected then fervently spread it to others around them and on the internet, like zombies. 

This kinda disinformation and propaganda has always existed in various forms. The internet and social media's ability to opaquely isolate, precisely target, and scale disinformation has taken it to a whole other level. Intentional and zombie perpetrators have learned to use these weapons readily available at their disposal. Platforms either actively participated, deliberately looked the other way as it helped grow engagement and revenue, naively allowed the spread as a support for free speech, or were simply unable to fathom and control the Frankenstein machine they had created. 

What's the cure and the vaccine?

Some ideas on what can help, but the "how" to go about it is a complicated question that I'm not currently qualified to answer. 

  • A rational, educated, and healthy population that can tell facts from fiction. 
  • A sense of unity and belonging. Respect, empathy, and kindness for everyone else, regardless of their beliefs and level of infection. 
  • Actual fairness in society and the perception of it. 
  • Open and transparent communication to rationally debate differences, work out solutions, compromise, and find a middle ground. 
  • Sensibly regulated media and the internet prevent and shine a light on disinformation (tricky to define, but there's been progress). Accountability and consequences for perpetrators and platforms. 
  • Upstanding, benevolent, and trustworthy leaders and trust in them.