Ok, I know I shouldn't have done it. It was a foolish idea so I know I've brought all this frustration on myself. I engaged with the internet loons. I know what you're thinking. What was I thinking? Why would I be so stupid? Just...why?
Well my thinking was that I finally saw an amusing post about the name of the virus. The poster (on a pro-vaccine group oddly enough) said we should stop calling it the Chinese virus, because if we called your mum where she came from, it would involve the back of a Buick. I posted my agreement, saying that as a British born Chinese person, I'd seen a lot of racism as a result of fear. Have a look here if you want to see my personal experience a few months ago.
My agreement with this joke turned into a whole thread. Why?! Why did I start it? One thing that stands out to me is how uneducated people are, and how obsessed with Trump they are! Trump needs to stand up to those inhumane, dirty Chinese people! That's the message I got. I'll share a few of my favourites from the thread.
Someone made me a spreadsheet! I feel very special. Yes, other diseases are named after where they were found. But no, other diseases don't breed the same sort of racism as this one. I don't think calling it the Chinese virus helps anyone. We all know where it came from, but my next poster seems to think we might forget:
The choice of language was a highlight for me. I think p*ssy is the last word anyone would use when referring to Trump, but just in case, let's focus on the Chinese virus. That'll save America's reputation...
And now for the best of the bunch:
The comment disappeared shortly afterwards. I assume because he looked at my name and realised his powers of observation needed some work. Given he didn't know me, he can't tell me how I feel but for some reason, people sit behind a computer screen and it takes away all need to treat people like humans.
The outright racism is very sad to see. At a time when some people are shopping for their neighbours, sole traders are struggling but extending payment deadlines for customers, small businesses are offering to deliver or post goods to customers, others are attacking Asians in the street, or avoiding all Chinese-owned businesses. Just listen to this heartbreaking story from an American-born Chinese girl in the New York Times. It shows other examples too.
Now we're in lock down, lots of businesses will suffer. Before this though, it was China Town that was suffering. It was for this reason that I really applauded Jay Rayner's act of solidarity and his statement that it doesn't matter what the reasons behind your racism are: it's still racism. It's reassuring that there are some sensible people out there!
So I've learnt a few lessons from this experience.
1. Don't engage!! I can't emphasise this strongly enough. I'm never going to win against the racist keyboard warriors. It's just a waste of time.
2. I'm so, so grateful for the remaining groups that are kind, helpful places. The Very Unfrench Wives is one of these groups. Other people comment on how lovely this group is. The keyboard warriors are kept out, and instead, it's a group to find mental support, French red tape advice, or even a funny meme. It's a haven.
It seems the old phrase your mum used is right: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.