Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Only in Hamilton"

I find that the comment sections of blogs and news sites reveal many common, disturbing perceptions. These sections, even when they exist below socially progressive, advocacy-based articles (not this one), often foster a community of hate and ignorance.

This popular blog post equates the visibility of poverty, disabilities, and other issues apparently prominent in Hamilton, Ontario, with the perceived undesirability of the city. Many of the commenters express disgust at the city because of the presence of socially marginalized people. Some examples of this widespread ignorance include comments about "scary" mentally ill people ("crazies"), assumptions about people who use electric scooters and frustration with "binners," people who, presumably poor, collect recyclables for money.

These commenters suggest that the people in these groups should not exist or at least be invisible.

This is not just visibility of these people's situations, but of the social issues that constrain them -- that is the actual nuisance. Improper care and integration of people with mental illness is one example. Causes of poverty another. Contrary to popular belief, poverty is not a choice. It's one thing to want people off the street. One's reasoning and desired methods are quite another.

I'm not sure if these commenters plainly hate the referred to individuals and the societies that make them visible -- for good or otherwise -- or if, perhaps subconsciously, they hate the visibility of injustice, suffering and inequities. It's easier to blame a city and its people than to identify and challenge the social issues. It's easier to interpret these social issues as individual failures or flaws.

1 comment :

  1. I've always been a proud member of the Socially Undesirables.

    People don't want to see extreme poverty, handicap, mental illness, homelessness. It actually makes people mad to see it, as though they are being violated by having to acknowledge these folks existence.

    Not everybody is like that...

    And if there is one thing worse than how people react to homeless people, it's what people say in internet comments. Bring those two things together, and you have... well, bad stuff.

    Bad stuff. I need to learn not to even read internet comments.