A Quick Word on Social Media, Politics, and Shouting Into the Void

Shortly after the election, right after the nation came together to either rejoice in having their already-dominating voices heard or to ask themselves what the fuck had just happened, the theories as to how the greasy orange businessman came into power started to emerge.

Immediately common targets stepped up to the range and we all began to shoot.

First was the eponymous “fake news”-partisan propaganda designed as actual news. Designed to tear the voters apart, to add to the already great rift between two visions of America. Maybe the sites were designed by the Russians. Maybe the sites would destroy the fabric of our democracy. Maybe we read them because we were stupid and didn’t know how to discern partisan rhetoric from actual journalism. Who knows.

And next came the platforms we all got our news from, and where these sites flourished: social media. Other people who see things different are annoying. We are all incapable of hosting an actual debate without immediately attempting to discredit them and insult them and absolve ourselves from a different opinion without removing these other people from our lives. It’s a shame to democracy, the articles said. How American can you be if you shut yourself off in a giant bubble filled with nothing but people who agree with you and allow yourself to be blinded by your own viewpoint, with no one to challenge it? What kind of democracy is that?

I was one of those who fell for it. I unsubscribed from the propaganda sites I really didn’t read that often anyway and stopped posting and writing political things into my personal echo chamber when political things made me mad. I was a good American. I wanted to give it a chance. And yes, I still do. This is far from the first time I’ve written politically on the blog but I wanted to keep my political views to the column in the magazine which shall remain anonymous.

But now, with the inauguration of one of the most divisive presidents a day away (and look at me, being nice about the man who may try to make it a crime to talk shit about him), I am here to pronounce that the articles lied to you. Maybe not on purpose. Maybe they were just as panicked and confused as we all were. Maybe they didn’t know and sometimes after disastrous and momentous events it takes time for facts to come out.

It is normal to unfriend and block whenever someone disagrees with you. You didn’t jump onto Facebook to argue with some woman you don’t know over foreign policy. That is what the articles forgot to tell you. It’s a natural reaction. Fight-or-flight. And sometimes the fight isn’t worth it.

Two words: Fuck em. One button and they’re gone for good.

But remember that we live in a democracy and the world is filled with people who disagree with you. You should set a standard for how you block and surely it will differ from person to person and that’s fine. But if it is something trivial-however you may define it-maybe you should try to interact. Start a friendly discussion. Be the better person. Talk with another human being over a crucial issue and see what they bring to the table and who knows maybe it will add something to what you already know about it.

Of course, you should draw a line over what you accept and is unacceptable to your values and rid yourself of any who cross it. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and people who call Our Lord and Savior Harambe “just a gorilla” are all good places to start. Same goes for shoestring anti-semitic conspiracy theories and calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization with connections to ISIS.

Case in point:

 

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Automatic block. I don’t think I ever tried talking to the guy anyway. No skin off my back and for something so lovably racist he deserves to be shamed in public.

My point here is that it is perfectly fine to block and unfriend whoever you want or need to regardless of what anyone tries to tell you. But the only way we can truly learn about the other side-and what they want in their other version of America-is to open up our ears. Healthy discussion is vital to a healthy society.

As long as you remind people where the boundaries are when you need to.

A Quick Word on Brexit From an American

The amount of heartbreak and utter disbelief I’ve seen tonight over Brexit just confirms how quickly our normal lives can be thrown out of order by forces beyond our ability to control.

History is cause and effect. That’s easy enough to see. Fear over one of the largest human migrations in modern history and a very real and very close to home terrorist threat has forced the great United Kingdom to look itself in the face and ask how large a part of Europe it actually wanted to be. The decision was made for you tonight. No one knows for certain what will happen next. There is only speculation. There is fear that created this movement and now has been acknowledged and spreads on.

But know this: as an American I stand with you. You gave us your language, your laws, the seeds to create the nation I live in and am also admittedly terrified for in terms of what comes next with the name Trump on the horizon and what his success means about my home.

The world is constantly changing around us. It always has and it always will. There have only been moments since the official proclamation. It is time for us as a people now to sit around and wait.

We will survive. We may change but this is another struggle to go through and to proudly tell our children that we survived.

Your ancestors survived Norman invasions and marauders and incendiary bombs dropped from the sky to destroy your cities and even Gary fucking Glitter.

But know that this will one day just be another footnote. Yes, The United Kingdom appears divided, but there have always been factions within your borders.

What you need to remember is that despite all this Great Britain remains one of the most stable and powerful nations on Earth. Don’t panic. Don’t give in to fear. You are all wise. You have thoughts, ideas. Use them. Your mind is your asset in times this precarious.

Remember what it means to be British. It takes grit. It takes wit. It takes hard-earned experience. You will live on.

England will prevail.

A Quick Word on Biased Reviews

Ever since people have been alternately complaining about and glorifying things-whether food, music, someone else’s opinion, or in this case, a book-others have had to take skepticism into account when in contact with it. They’ve had to ask why something was being said, instead of what. Sure, sometimes this can lead to trouble. But writing is special. There’s an unwritten rule that whenever you mention or use something controversial you’re getting a shit ton of hate mail. Doesn’t matter how well you use it, how delicately you treat it, how well you wrote it, how pretty the fucking font is. People are naturally opinionated and the anonymity of the Internet only helps bring that out. This is why every comment section ever is a killing field: Someone’s gonna get pissed off eventually.

Only question is what’s worth fighting about. And whether you’re smart enough to keep your opinion to yourself or be filled with insatiable fury and bloodlust and get away from your screen and shut the fuck up. The latest victim is a charity anthology. Innocent enough, yes? Good stories in a good book for a good cause? Lord knows Paladins would never get that level of treatment, and all proceeds there go to fucking cancer research.

But the anthology in question is controversial. Unloaded is a collection from some of the greatest crime writers at their very best removing the cliché of gun violence in crime fiction (find out how many times a cop pulls a gun in an average movie versus real life) for the sake of bringing the gun violence epidemic in this nation to the limelight. I’ve got something in common here with them, and before I continue, this must be known: I have not read this book. But this is not a politically motivated book. It’s simply about addressing a problem and admitting that it exists. There is no bias here. This is for charity, and for awareness to a problem as real as global warming or world hunger. Unloaded’s crime is bringing this topic up and daring to have its writers make something about it. But some people didn’t like that. Some didn’t like possibly having their version of their Second Amendment rights suppressed so they decided to use their First Amendment rights to attack the writers’ First Amendment rights.

It is nothing short of petty to attack a book, let alone a fucking charity anthology, for the sake of flexing your political opinion hard-on. Openly admitting in the reviews you post that you haven’t even bothered reading the damn thing and are only there to whine and bitch helps show that you have rushed to a conclusion and feel absolutely disgusted at the fact that words you don’t like have been put on paper. A question: Would you attack an anthology based around abortion awareness? If there was one story from a fetus’ point of view? It’d help to prove your point that they’re living things, wouldn’t it? And that’s all that matters. Doesn’t matter how well written, the quality of sentence flow, the writer’s treatment. You agree with it, five stars. What if it was immediately followed by one that puts an expectant mother in a sympathetic light, a young girl stuck between a man who doesn’t love her and a baby she knows she can’t support, with pressure from all sides? One star, naturally, and a review three pages long hastily typed because you’re too mad to think because abortion . How would you justify yourself if it was, say, a memoir about homelessness? How about adolescent homelessness? Would you attack it because you disagreed with the existence of welfare and maybe that was the only thing keeping somebody alive?

Is it really even a review if you haven’t read it? Nope. It’s a rant. And if you disagree with something you are reading, watching, listening to, whatever, then your judgment on the work as an art form has been compromised and if you can’t separate belief from a subjective opinion about the art itself then a review is useless. You aren’t one-starring the book. You’re one-starring the idea that a book can be written about it, and that’s what really pisses you off.

I’d like to thank them for being petty and ultimately useless and making your ideology look shallow and uninformed. And also thanks for the excuse to promote this anthology.

Looking forward to the shitstorm in the comments.