There is a real and justified anger among a large part of society. There can be no doubt about that. But then those who trade in rage come along and do what they are known for. They incite it, fuel it, make a living by selling it. We experienced it once in the years of the economic bailouts. With society suffering, hatred was easily sold and some people profited. Obviously they did not care if Greece would have to revert to the drachma or if the country would collapse again – for them it was just a job.
The same is happening now. Toxicity is rampant in public debate, especially on social media. Conspiracy theories abound – same with insults. Someone gets sick and people respond with curses. Political slogans have been replaced by an expletive verb in the second and third person singular and plural of the passive voice. For those who care about the country, it does not matter if the insults are aimed at main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis or KINAL/PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis. What worries me is that they fuel a race to the bottom.
Coolheaded observers also see that the extreme right-wingers now have the upper hand in the toxic part of the dialogue. Which makes sense because left-wing anti-systemic views were tested and disappointed the public. The road was paved with the extreme and vulgar slogans of the previous era which brought something even more extreme. Everyone is in the spotlight now. This is always the case, we have been writing about it for a long time: Whoever feeds the monster of unbridled populism will eventually get bitten by it.
Other – metaphysically optimistic – observers insist that all this is “white noise” caused by a minority that knows how to stir things up but does not affect the vast majority of public opinion. They think that we attach too much importance to the noise they make.
I might have agreed with them if I did not see how much “fuel” has gathered again that could ignite a new fire within Greek society. The pressure put on large social groups that cannot make ends meet due to the rising prices is unbearable. There are no magic solutions.
These days, I have been thinking of expressing the wish that toxicity addicts would impose an Easter truce. Even rival armies do it in wilder and more polarized conditions. And in any case, even if there is no truce, the rest of us, whatever we believe in, whatever we disagree on, can embrace our first “free” Easter in two years, celebrate and take a breather. Maybe even leaving the cellphone aside for a few hours. Happy Easter!