BE honest, how did you react? When word filtered through that Australia had revoked tennis star Novak Djokovic's entry visa on arrival in Melbourne, did you find yourself filled with outraged indignation or did you quietly bask in the warm glow of schadenfreude?

It is a thorny question. Seeing one of the sport's biggest names packed off to a detention hotel to await deportation rather than playing in a Grand Slam tournament has sparked a slew of reactions, with Djokovic taking on a new mantle as poster boy for pandemic era rule-bending.

Closer to home, we all know someone like that. Through the early lockdowns, they were the ones slyly taking themselves off to the beach on sunny days when everyone else was stuck landlocked at home.

They were building DIY bars from old pallets in the back garden or installing hot tubs and inviting round 30 mates for an impromptu party. It rankled then and it still rankles now.

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Which is perhaps why – if I am truly honest – when Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that "rules are rules" amid a huge backlash over the Serbian player and world number one's vaccine exemption muddle, it did feel like a small glimmer of victory.

I am not proud of that feeling. But I am fed up with being made to feel like a ridiculous killjoy for believing some level of caution seems wholly sensible as we continue to navigate our way through the tricky, ever-shifting quagmire of a pandemic.

Tribalism is a curious beast. It exists in many forms. Sometimes it is fun and fairly benign – like choosing to be a Brosette and wear Grolsch bottle caps on your brogues as a teenager.

HeraldScotland: Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2021. Picture: John Walton/PA WireNovak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2021. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire

In more recent times, though, tribalism has become a discombobulating construct. It stirs up entrenched viewpoints so vehemently polarised – the Scottish independence debate, Brexit, climate change, vaccine scepticism – that a blistering mushroom cloud of resentment envelops everything and everyone.

Ultimately, the Djokovic saga is merely the latest battleground in a series of skirmishes on these fronts. A war that feels tedious and terrifying in equal measure.

I sometimes try to imagine how future generations might look back on this tumultuous chapter in our history. Will they find it wryly amusing, like the quaint idea of ancient Egyptians removing human viscera and popping it in a jar for the afterlife?

Or might it stoke the same grisly disgust as tales of Roman capital punishment where the condemned met their deaths by being torn to pieces by wild animals?

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Come to mention it, that last bit does sound familiar. Although these days we have "cancel culture", with social media and comment sections as the amphitheatre for being ripped to shreds by virtual lynch mobs.

The irony is we often think of ourselves as more sophisticated or advanced than our ancestors. But perhaps the human race doesn't ever really level up, rather we blithely repeat the same cycles of behaviour dressed up as progress. That's a depressing thought.

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