In recent news, Pope Francis was forcefully grabbed by a woman in a crowd that just wanted to shake his hand. Caught off guard, the Pope slapped the woman’s hand. It was the slap heard around the world.
I make no judgement about this incident. I am not sure any is warranted. “It is what it is,” as the old saying goes. But in spite of this, the video is now a viral sensation in which millions of people all over the world feel the need to pass judgment over an incident that happened in the twinkling of an eye.
I find this altercation altogether Orwellian. It’s like something we should have read about in the book 1984, and not the front page of the news. We have created a world in which we are constantly under some sort of surveillance, and feel the need to collectively snitch on one another.
But oddly, we do such without being under the compulsion of a totalitarian regime. Our surveillance society is completely democratized, and something we participate in free from the coercive force of a menacing government spying on our every move.
We love Big Brother because we have become Big Brother.
Perhaps the most concerning thing about this event which will be forgotten before this weekend is even over, is that these sort of incidents happen a million times a day. The fabric of social media is sewn together with these happenings.
And because of the storm brewing over the Pope slapping this woman’s hand, he has felt compelled to issue a formal public apology. My guess is that a few decades ago, this incident would not have been covered by any media outlets, let alone the Pope issuing an apology over it.
In prior times, the slap heard around the world would have been nothing but an awkward exchange, forgotten by both parties by the end of the day.
Our Need To Feed
But nothing about this or millions of other incidents will change anytime soon, if ever. Our human nature just has this need to feed constantly on even the most innocuous of happenings. It makes me wonder what sort of society we are creating.
Right now this appears to be fostering a level of “cancel culture” whose crosshairs the Pope can’t seem to escape. But what’s next after that? What will cancel culture evolve into? Where will our appetites take us next?
I’m not sure I know. Perhaps something more Orwellian?
What do you think?