The internet is a wonderful place: it can tell you how big a country is, find you the best recipe for timpana and even give you those all-important Lidl opening hours. Use it well and you can benefit from an endless stream of information; use it badly and well, you could end up fighting some fat, hairy man for the last tin of corned beef.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: if there is one thing that I love about this country, it’s our consistency.
My super-dad recently submitted a thesis about cholera in Malta in the 19th century and, while I was reading it, I was nothing short of impressed at how little we have changed in the past 200 years. He noted down stories of wives locking their husbands out of their own houses and letting them die in the street, of mothers who would refuse to look after their own children and, in one particularly incredible case, a son calling out to his sick fisherman father from the shore about where he had hidden his money while refusing to help him onto land.
Given that the father survived, Christmas lunches probably weren’t too pleasant at their house. Ironically, it was the British who would go out of their way to help the poor, unfortunate souls that crossed their paths.
People were literally logging onto social media, swallowing misinformation whole and then going bananas
It was these stories that came to mind when I saw images of this week’s apocalyptic supermarket rape. But it was not the questionable nutritional choices that got to me; it was the abject, unabashed selfishness. Spurred on by rumour, ignorance and a general mistrust of the world, people were literally logging onto social media, swallowing misinformation whole and then going bananas. As the day progressed, more and more seemed to be hotfooting it to supermarkets and literally emptying them of anything edible.
It didn’t seem to matter to Jane or Joe that they had a greater chance of dying from influenza, or that the virus hadn’t even arrived on our shores, or that our borders are wide open and more food can come in at any time; the only thing they cared about was having enough food for them and their immediate families. Apparently, love thy neighbour and do unto others what you would have them do unto you only applies when your belly is full, 20 times over. Ever been to a buffet at a hotel in Malta? It’s always Black Friday there.
There are multiple studies that show a correlation between people’s level of education and their willingness to accept and spread rumour, but this week literally took the cake and confirmed that there is no hope for us.
Now, two days after the aftermath, there are women frantically looking for powdered milk to feed their newborns because some other woman thought her baby was more deserving of having 10 such tubs in case she was faced with the apocalypse.
Has the ability to feel shame completely abandoned us on this god-forsaken rock we all are forced to share?
It’s this attitude that has rotted our country to its very core. It’s this same greed that has motivated us into ravaging our environment. It’s this same ignorance which dictates our shabby, short-sighted attitude, and perhaps worst of all, it’s our pervading sense of entitlement that has robbed us of our ability to feel empathy towards others.
The promise of this virus coming to our shores has done far worse than kill us; it has held up a mirror to what we truly are.
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