I don’t have a Facebook account. Or rather, I do, because you can never truly cancel one of those things completely out of existence. There’s a Faceborg Chad Olson that still exists somewhere in cyberspace, and maybe the account will achieve consciousness in 2075 and live an alternate life for me. There are many universes, after all. “I dream I am a butterfly, dreaming I am a man, lying under a tree.” That’s my loose translation of the I Ching. Thanks, Chinese Lit!
I still use my wife’s account occasionally to “check out the pics” of some of my family and friends. And that’s a nice way to mindlessly scroll when I’m sitting on the train during a long commute.
But I use it for another purpose to. A secret purpose. A purpose I’m not sure I’m proud of: To see what her friends who lean to the left politically think about current events. It’s better than reading the Huffington Post, if I want to get a view of the Left’s id.
Whether it’s Harvey Weinstein, Hurricane Harvey, Puerto Rico disaster recovery, North Korean nukes, Las Vegas shootings, Pittsburgh Kneelers – the comments fly, the indignation is high, the moral outrage fumes, the rage consumes.
Does it solve anything? Of course not. It is a prime example of the echo chamber mentality. Some even brag about the political purges they conduct of “friends” who have disagreed with them. “Had to clear out my list today; just so tired of the microagressions.” “All those cis-males really pissed me off. They can take their privilege to another feed.”
I myself went a different route, with perhaps a similar result. I pulled the plug on Facebook because it struck me as a forum to lose friends and confuse people. (That’s a perhaps too subtle allusion to the book How to Win Friends and Influence People).
But during my deep research into the id of Lefty Facebook, a few categories of person have emerged. Yes, I know, every person is an individual and how dare I stereotype, and… wait a second! I don’t have to answer for that crap on a personal blog. So, let’s get to it.
The Rager – this person has a 3 to 1 ratio of posts about politics vs. personal things. Trump winning has pushed them over the edge, and they have plenty of “hot takes” about his every tweet and twitch. Russia is constantly on the Rager’s mind. He longs for Mueller to come up with something in his investigation, and finds the man sexy because he might make all the Rager’s dreams come true. Usually, his post is a brief snippet of pure rage accompanying a posted article. Example: “Trump is pure Hitler. Also, he’s fat and he plays golf. You can’t ignore what he’s done and is doing. I can’t sleep thinking about what this man is doing every day.”
The Obama Fan/Concern troll – this person keeps the rage more in check, but she was a huge fan of the past president and doesn’t want to see his “legacy” undone by the petulant child occupying the White House. She really buys into the fact that poor people are going to be worse off under Trump, and it doesn’t make any sense to her that rational people wouldn’t want to take subsidies from the federal government for health insurance. Dependency is beautiful, after all. Example of a post: “Obama had so much class. Remember when he did this?” Then, an article is posted of Obama getting a Nobel Peace Prize for lowering the water in the ocean, or telling some good jokes at the Washington Press Dinner. “Nerd Prom, everyone. He was the greatest of us all!” Sad face emoji.
The Threat-point Addict (TPA) – “If you voted for Trump, you are no friend of mine. You hate XXX (black people, gay people, apple pie, the American Way, and the poem on the Statue of Liberty that fer sure trumps the constitution).” The TPA thinks you should get hip with the identity politics brigade, admit you are a racist, and post items about how you, as a white cis-male, have made women uncomfortable in the past, you’re sorry about this, and you promise to be better. The Threat-pointer will always threaten the purges, but he prefers if you do it for him. “Just unfriend me now if you support XXX. It’s not worth having further interaction with you. Also, you’re a garbage human.” He very much enjoys the phrase “dumpster fire”, which is a great metaphor for any action by the current Administration, and enjoys reposting the thoughts of Dan Rather (who’d “rather” you not remember he tried to destroy Bush’s political chances with a made up scandal).
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m a little ashamed about scrolling through their feeds, having arguments in my head as I do so, and using my wife’s account to do it. She’s more of a “go along to get along type of person,” and thank goodness, doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. She isn’t interested in politics, though I remind her sometimes that politics is interested in her. You will be made to care, comrade. Just ask the first person who’s sued in California for not using the right pronoun for someone suffering from gender dysphoria. Politics will find you! Xer will find you!
My sister told me recently she’s unplugging from all screens. That even includes texts. I know: insanity. But I see the goodness in it. I’m no longer “friends” with the Ragers, the Obama Fans, or the Threat-pointers, but I’m still friends with them. Because when we’re face to face, interacting as real humans, it is better. I have calm conversations, disagreeing with respect. Yes, they’re uncomfortable, but there is “more skin in the game” as compared to online interactions. If you aren’t willing to speak and defend your position, why hold it?