Schadenfreude is alive and well

My wife is a member of a few whatsapp groups, all of them dominated by people from all around the world who frequently come to England to visit or work. Some have got homes here – as is the case with one particular whatsapp groupie who posted an interesting thread this morning from her London flat. I’m rarely activated enough to say much – after all, I’m more an engineer type ‘red’ than a social ‘blue’ – but today I can’t let this one pass without comment.

It turns out the Prime Minister has coronavirus. Hopefully it’s not going to be serious and he’ll get through it as most do. What shocked me was not that our whatsapp groupie posted this news on the group, but that she followed it with a smiley. Now I don’t believe there are any circumstances in which this is acceptable use of a smiley by an intelligent person. My wife posted back – surely she didn’t mean to add the smiley? Yes, came the reply, because this was the PM who had recklessly endangered all of us by championing the theory of herd immunity.

What she perhaps doesn’t appreciate is that our PM has been following the advice of the best scientists in the world. This person may or may not be motivated by political feelings about the PM, but she managed to conflate pandemic, personal jeopardy and politics into a social media post of breathtaking levels of schadenfreude, and by doing so insulted and abused the thousands of scientists who are doing their level best to keep her safe.

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