Recently, America's version of the Brownshirts, the Proud Boys, attacked Nancy Pelosi in California as well as beat up some people of color, punks and homosexuals on the streets of NYC while police sat back and watched.
The conclusion is that with our new morally bankrupt president, we have de-evolved as a society and we have begun to normalize violence to an even more startling degree. We're painfully close to the days of lynching. Whatever shame or restraint which was holding back white supremacists from carrying out their agendas of hatred has eroded and the result is a strong rise in hate crimes which pretty much started the second Trump was elected.
To be fair, and in a feeble attempt to create consensus, Mitch McConnell was recently harassed at a restaurant. While I don't think that these different violent acts are nearly on par, it is blatantly true that our society has become incredibly polarized. Some of my smartest friends are even predicting civil war, a terrifying notion.
Since we are a democracy (in theory), which is rule of the people, we are all (theoretically) to blame (this is only kinda true if one thinks voter suppression and gerrymandering is successful enough to change election outcomes, which I suspect is true. Unfortunately, that is the topic of another blog post, so I'll just walk through this argument assuming that we are all still somewhat responsible for where the country currently is. And in a post-nietzsche "God is dead" world, no matter what there is at least an inch of truth in this assumption). Gerrymandering and the electoral college aside, we voted for this enabling monster who gave a green light to publicly acceptable racism.
While American political tribalism isn't new, or is American racism, the number of white supremacists coming out the closet has increased. It is also something we can't stop thinking about due to the necessity of technology in our life. The phone, the screen, the computer is a portal to endless political discourse, thousands of tweets pointing to links showcasing injustices, an endless barrage of ideas, thoughts, images, etc., etc., etc.
Facebook, YouTube and other Online Social Media have recently been criticized for their rolls in polarizing our politics, either by creating algorithms which allow users to live in fantasy versions of reality, or by keeping the user in front of the screen as much as possible by displaying the most absurd click-bate out there.
Twitter does not get a pass; here comes the judge, y'all. Discussing politics on a platform that censors ones thoughts to a little more than a Haiku is an awful, awful, awful idea.
Back in the day, politics were boring. It would involve a lot of talking heads being recorded on C-SPAN attempting to come to consensus. Often times, these conversations would go on forever. Why? Because political issues are nuanced and complicated. Political opinion were reflections of ones values, not a means to pop an anger boner getting into a Twitter war with someone we disagreed with. In order to even talk politics, you had to study, you had to educate yourself and you had to listen to ones political opponents unless you wanted to look like a fool at the town meeting. And you had to make yourself visible, as politics happened a lot more IRL (in real life, as the kids say). You also had to try harder. Having a political opinion couldn't just be farted out at the touch of a button. In any case, time would elapse before one could just present a political idea and the whole experience was more meditative.
The means of communication were not open to you if you were just some slack-jaw yokel with absolutely no political resume unless for some craptastic human interest piece on the local news about how the factory closed down, in which case the slack-jawed yokel would be portrayed as an orphaned puppy dog to create sympathy for the viewer, thus increasing ratings. Understandably, a resentment grew within the slack-jawed yokels of our world.
So when Twitter started, it was seen as a great leap in progressive politics. If everyone has a voice in Democracy, our Democracy will become stronger.
Unfortunately, Democracy has a dark side. Democracy is rule of the people. Simply put, if you have stupid people, you'll have a Stupid Democracy (file under: Donald Trump). While it is not Politically Correct to put down the slack-jawed yokels of the world, advocating for their uneducated views does violence against those who study political theory and science long and hard. While all of humanity may be created equally, not all ideas are created equally. Presenting the idea that Hilary Clinton runs a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor is stupid and a lie, but in 2018 it is presented as equal to a well thought out opt-ed think piece or actual news reporting done by people who have devoted their lives to the craft. The fact that Twitter presents such BS as equal to actual journalism does violence to the craft of journalism, the same way soundcloud bands democratizes the music industry, hence creating a pop music of narcissistic dionaysian excess with the most basic musical composition, cleverly defended as a "mantra" (and before you judge me for putting down rap, I'm listening to Wu-Tang right now, a real rap group that put time and effort into their records because they didn't have an online platform at the time to just fart out whatever musical idea they had at the moment). There is a connection between Pizzagate and Lil' Pump; in a society that has de-valued both journalism and music by creating means that conveniently allows us to get our media for free, the actual value of these mediums goes down. Good work isn't free and free work isn't good.
Furthermore, Twitter congratulates those who can dwindle down complex political realities into clever 3 to 4 word soundbites. Regardless of the end goal of said soundbites, these soundbites are propaganda, plain and simple. Propaganda is most effect when it is a simple message repeated to infinity and carpet bombed all about society. What better way to describe how hashtags work?
For example, while I am in favor of the #metoo movement, and I am pleased with the results of said movement being a victim of sexual assault and harassment myself, the means of which the movement occurred are scary. The same means could be used to propose a bad idea ... like #makeamericagreatagain ... a very simple message which was carpet bombed everywhere until the lemmings in society whose greatest value is being normal decided that they better get behind this backwards message or be outcasted as a weird-o. Why? Because, as Andy Warhol says, "The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel."
So what would our politics look like if Sillicon Valley was burned to the ground and Twitter ceased to exist (I'm speaking hypothetically here)? What if you couldn't just fart out a political Tweet the second you had it to an audience of many? To be honest, I don't know. Perhaps Twitter solves a lot of problems I am unaware of due to my age, race, class ... I don't know the frustrations of being a slackjawed yokel, or being uninfrancished or repressed in a society without a voice. But I do know that having a voice is a big responsibility, and, like Uncle Ben of Spider-Man comics says, "with great power comes great responsibility".
I don't have a Twitter, or Facebook, because political discourse on these devises started become abusive wars of words. Me and my opponents were not trying to understand the other's viewpoint, we were simply attempting to one up one another. My opponents presented links to bogus websites, clearly created by Russian Trolls. Facts did not matter to them. It was violence disguised as dialogue. So I stopped, because all it was doing was stealing all my time that could have been used to do real life things that would improve the world, like working at a soup kitchen, or planting some flowers, or going to my town hall and asking if we could have more bike paths here on the cape so we don't have to rely on cars to get the work so we all don't go underwater in 12 years.
If you've gotten this far reading this, I want to not only thank you, but applaud you for taking the time for taking me seriously (I am honored) but I also applaud you for respecting the written word, dialogue, for investigating deeper and not settling for a convenient catchphrase to define your politics.