Had enough online outrage? Group takes on digital hate of COVID era

Photo: SG (not) COVIDIOTS/Facebook
Photo: SG (not) COVIDIOTS/Facebook

Stricter rules to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore have given rise to so-called vigilantes who bully suspected violators, sometimes with hateful overtones.

Thankfully, online communities like SG (not) COVIDIOTS have emerged to take the lead in countering all that negativity. 

More than 300 people joined the public Facebook group since its inception Friday “to spread positivity and solidarity” through posts showcasing random acts of kindness, among others. The group was formed after several videos of people being shamed or harassed for breaching COVID-19 rules went viral. 

Since then, members have brought attention to charities helping those in need, initiatives that help struggling businesses and expressions of gratitude for those on the front lines.

Described as a “space where we invite everyone to spread positivity and solidarity,” the page was created by Facebook user Praveen Ramesh, who is also behind a satirical group mocking boomers called a group we all pretend to be KIASU boomers

“Let’s stay united and fight COVID-19 with kindness,” its description continues. “Enough of the unnecessary shaming of people. Singaporeans are better than that and this is the time to stay strong together.”

In a separate post, Praveen called for netizens to drown out online bullies, particularly those from the SG Covidiots Facebook group, where dozens have been rudely exposing alleged violators, often with racist and xenophobic comments. 

“Let’s establish ourselves as the go to page during this [circuit-breaker period]. If you have any positive news or info to share that will help any group or demographic during this period please go ahead and post it. Our point is to keep people’s spirits up while shutting down opportunistic bullies (SG COVIDIOTS etc). Let’s counter their negativity and make them obsolete,” Parveen said in the post.

Members of the SG (not) Covidiot have been filling the page with positive content such as new initiatives to help the needy and opinions about Singapore’s toxic vigilante culture.  

“Now I do agree with their intention of raising awareness and there should be consequences for breaching the current lockdown laws if it were their actual intentions,” Henry Sng wrote in a lengthy commentary

“Unfortunately, this group has become an excuse to incite hate, bullying, and racism. do they ACTUALLY believe in ‘fighting covidiots’?” he added. 

Darryl Seah is among those highlighting good deeds on the page, including an initiative by a local creative agency to thank delivery workers through well-designed posters. 

“You might’ve run out of packet drinks or surgical masks, so here’s a smorgasbord of free (and stylish!) posters to give, or print, for our delivery heroes. Thank them for your weight gain programme, or for making your chores easier,” he wrote online

Facebook user Calvin Piao Piao Chong yesterday shared a donation drive called Home For All that aims to purchase meals for migrant workers in Singapore. 

“Very insightful and fulfilling cause, do donate if u have some money to spare,” he wrote

Other stories you should see:
A New ‘Home’: Patriotic Singapore anthem gets virtual choir remake for these COVID-19 times
Pay it forward: Singaporeans urged to donate S$600 payouts to those who (really) need them
Singapore’s COVID-snitches harass and shame strangers in racially charged videos
#Savefnbsg: Restaurants call for gov’t to intervene with delivery platforms

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