So typically, I shy from controversial political topics on social media. I find internet arguments futile and counterproductive to the overall advancement of humanity. Plus also, one way to make me roll my eyes way to the back of my head is to constantly post controversial political topics on social media but specifically on Facebook (full disclosure: if you post controversial political topics on Facebook and I happen to agree with the opinion expressed on that topic, my eyes don't roll back at all...I will fist bump you for it, but only in my head and/or by clicking the like button). In this way, I maintain my dignity and can be passive aggressive, all at once. Win-win!
Seriously, has anyone ever changed their opinion based on a Facebook post? And do arguments on the Internet ever resolve, with one side agreeing with the other? I've never witnessed it happen. I think people really just needed an area to spout off their opinions(god knows I do, why do you think I have a blog?) and the Internet turned out to be a good tool for that. What's happened, though, is that it's turned us all into people who aren't really interested in the other side's talking points, because everybody's convinced THEIR talking points are The Infallible Truth, the end. In addition to social media, we also have polarizing media outlets and their online platforms that encourage that. Also, you can Google your point of view and find 100 websites that back you up, and if I disagree with you, I can Google and get 100 other websites that prove you wrong. The world is just nutty these days--lots of information, but then there's the questionable usage of it. Holy god, don't even get me started on the "facts" posted on Fox Nation and such. Those guys keep factchecker.org and snopes.com totally busy.
Can I tell you a quick story about how people USED to bombard other people via social media, before there was the Internet? Here is my story:
My grandfather, my dad's dad, who everyone called Papa Joe because he was a stern man, a quiet man, but also a decent man, liked to drink and socialize at bars. All the time. As in, he had many talents, but the bar thing was sort of his obsessive hobby. So what Papa Joe would do is, after work, he'd go to his 1950s version of Facebook (aka a local bar) and slide onto a bar stool. If there happened to be a stranger sitting nearby, Papa Joe would strike up a casual conversation with that person. Then, Papa Joe would lead the conversation into a political debate, based on whatever topic was the hot button of the day. Papa Joe would figure out what side the stranger was on, and then immediately start arguing for the opposite side...even if Papa Joe agreed with that stranger. The argument would continue for however long, usually until the stranger got so mad he was about to punch my grandfather, and when it got to that point, Papa Joe would laugh, clap the fellow on the back, and say, "I'm just yankin' your chain. I agree with everything you said. Let me buy you a beer."
In that way, my grandfather paved the way for the Internet. He sparked ideas, ran his own discussion forums, built content. He grew an audience. He got friended all the time. People retweeted his thoughts, and Liked what he shared, but they did it 1940s and 50s local bar style (meaning, they bought him beers, he bought them beers). Papa Joe was the original Mark Zuckerburg and the 4 creators of Twitter, all rolled into one person. Except he was 10,000 times less geeky and he could build his own house. And play the piano and the trumpet at the same time. And he knew a lot about electricity and hunting his own food. I suspect those guys don't know how to do any of that, which is why they just built social media platforms for people to argue hot topics of the day on.
Except, somewhere along the way, something went awry. (My suspicion is it happened when sociopaths, aka trolls, got online. Sociopaths and internet trolls: mucking it up for everybody else, since 1996.)
You know what else is really weird to me about social media? Tweeting in general...I've been researching the how and why of Twitter, because I want to understand. I'm up to over 200 followers, and we all sort of follow each other because she follows her and so I follow her too and then he follows me and I see that he follows her and her and her, too, so I follow him and...I think that's how it works? I still don't know. Generally, I follow back if something about the person connects for me--when someone follows me, I always visit their twitter page,and sometimes links they put up there about themselves. If I think: yeah, I could hang out with you for a bit in real life, I follow them. What makes me sad is when I get an auto Direct Message after following someone back...isn't that like buying someone a beer and them trying to sell you a watch in response? But my strict policy is to block people I can immediately see are spammers...or hookers. Businesses trying to build a base I'll let slide, but spammers and hookers? Gots to go. (I get a lot of hookers for some strange reason. Maybe Olaf photo bombing me in my current picture is too provocative.)
Also (and mostly), I'm pretty sure I'm still doing it wrong because I think I'm not interacting enough--I've gotten more followers, but I'm still too shy to interact with them. I know how to, but about what? And if they're having a conversation with someone, I guess I'm just supposed to butt into it and give my thoughts on a conversation that didn't even involve me? In real life when that happens, I'm usually all: Hey, uh, this is an A-B conversation so C your way out of it, particularly if it's a sensitive topic. But nope, not on Twitter, it seems--nothing is sacred. Which is why I can see I'm doing it wrong. You just have conversations (about what?) in public with strangers. In front of billions of other strangers who are watching/listening in and sometime butt into your A-B conversation and suddenly make it a C-D-E-F-G-H-I-JKLMNOP conversation. And nobody's even buying anybody else a beer. Or anything!
Lands, this is the same feeling I get when I've just met someone and now I have to find something to talk about, make small talk. Or I'm at a party and I'm nervous about interrupting a conversation that's already under way...I don't want to be rude. In real life, this is always so much easier to do if beer or wine is involved. Is there a Twitter bar people like me can pony up to? (Ironically, I don't have an issue replying to celebrities' tweets--I think because they never respond, so I still feel like I'm shouting into thin air and no one is paying attention to or hearing anything I'm saying. At first, I was all: Oh god, what if he sees this and thinks I'm a dweeb? Or: Oh god, what if she reads this and blocks me? But now I don't think they see anything I write to them, and so I just talk to them like we're bestest of friends. ....which is really weird, too, because we are not friends. We are strangers. They could be completely famous psycho twats for all I know, and I just tweet all my thoughts out loud to them, in front of other not-famous psycho twats. Twitter, you are the most bizarre social media tool ever, and if I didn't have such an addictive personality, we would no longer be speaking. But I can't quit you, and so here we are. You're like Christian Grey and I'm that girl Don Johnson and Melanie Griffiths' daughter plays in the movie, except I'm not sure if that's a good analogy or not since I refuse to read that book and not because of the content but solely because of the writing quality. Listen: don't tell anybody--we have to keep all this on the down low til I'm ready to come out of the closet about you...or someone stages an intervention.)
Wait! Where was I? I started this blog post with a planned route in mind, and now we're completely lost. This is why GPS is a better invention than social media. Let's see...Twitter weirdness, social media, Papa Joe antagonizing strangers, politics...oh, right! So anyway. There I was on Facebook, posting about politics and I got kapowed! And thus. I learned my lesson, lesson learned (until my next hormonal/PMS phase). I tried to educate people with some data/facts I Googled about Ferguson, in an effort to stop the racist pictures in my Facebook feed as well as the even more racist ensuing commentary beneath those posted pictures, which were of looters and such. Who knows where these pictures even came from? Many of the subjects in them sported hairstyles from 1995. (And don't white people ever steal? I'm certain they do. This reminds me of the time our house was robbed several years ago by Caucasian, middle class meth heads. And when I'd start to tell people about it, they'd almost immediately make a comment about illegal immigrants or blacks. Nope, I'd tell them--our looters were just little ol' coked up honkies, sorry to blow up all your prejudiced assumptions.)
So someone I genuinely like, who makes me laugh and laugh when I'm around him, but has politics far right of where I exist came and commented under my reality facts article. And of course I was overly hormonal and tightly wound that day. Could not do it; simply could not engage on any level. This person and I once had a lively, spirited debate on gun control that, while infuriating on a certain level, was respectful and humor-filled and ended on a positive note.
Wednesday was not that day.
First off, I'd been at the mall surrounded by a lot of women wearing designer jeans with sequins on the back pockets; these people are always passive aggressive and massive triggers for me. (I think I've written about what interactions with people like this do to me.) And a handful of these people were rude and passive aggressive to my child and my niece and nephew simply because they were being children, and I was all: HEY! Only I get to be rude and passive aggressive to those kids! Not you--LEARN THE RULES. And secondly, I was recovering from some serious PMS hormones. And thirdly, I have a shitload of stuff happening in my personal life right now that has me on edge most days. So he said some stuff, then I called him a name, and he poked at me some more and when that happened, you guys! I could literally feel my tightly wound rage starting to unravel. So I begged for mercy. Fortunately, despite being a gun-worshipping ultra ultra right wing freak, he views me as a big sister and has a sense of humor. And I've doted on him for years, and I have a sense of humor and so now we are okay. And thus I learned not to venture forth into those shark-infested waters ever again. Until I see more racism in my news feed on a super hormonal day when I'm really feeling out of sorts...which, I suppose, are precisely the days I should take an Internet break. sigh. One day I'll get it.
Really, that whole experience reminded me why I decided to stop following CNN and other news outlets on social media; my brain knows I need to know about what's happening on the planet, but my heart is begging it not to. For now, I'm listening to my heart because my blood pressure can only take so much.
You know what else the internet and Twitter and Facebook don't help people with at all? Good eye contact. I think if you're going to argue with someone, you should have to look them in the eyeballs the whole time. This always sends me into fits of giggles, which means no one--not even me--ends up taking my argument seriously, and we all end up dancing to the Bee Gees on the dance floor (there should be a dance floor, everywhere you go). Which is how it SHOULD be on the Internet: after an online argument, everyone has to upload YouTube videos of themselves dancing to the Bee Gees on the Internet dance floor.
Here, I'll start us. This is my favorite Bee Gees song, of all time. I want it played at my funeral, actually...after Barry Manilow's stuff, of course. Nobody can stay mad at anyone as soon as this song starts to play: