It’s Blogday. I promised not to get political, and this isn’t, really. It is, however, no doubt too long for a blog post, or so the Agent tells me every time I write a blog post.
Anyway, I always liked old-style political discourse where people disagreed and discussed and sometimes yelled, but social media has changed the whole game. People are staking out extreme positions, and if you call someone’s position extreme, you’re an idiot or a sheep. Which leaves us, and quite a few snowflakes, with a lot of hurt feelings.
Pointing out extremist viewpoints shouldn’t necessarily be political, but since politics are so extreme these days, that is no longer the case. Nevertheless, please read below my redacted letter to a hypothetical friend who somehow has lost his way and become an extremist internet troll, posting far-right, Breitbart conspiracy-type stuff for his friends (liberals or at least moderates), colleagues (ditto) and the world to see.
I had ignored said hypothetical friend’s posts since well before the 2016 election when they started getting nauseating, but he crossed a line that required action! And since I figure we all know someone like this, please consider this a community service. Cut and paste any sections that might be useful in talking to your own soon-to-be-former friends and relatives.
Names and descriptions have been redacted (between those funny bracket-thingies that look like this: [ ] ) to protect the privacy of the hypothetical persons involved. Edits left as strike-throughs are purely for comedic effect.
Note: posting a letter (posting, as in Post Office) is much better than email or messaging for something like this because let’s face it, you don’t really want a response. If you send it by mail, that would conceivably behoove a response by mail, which means obtaining a stamp and envelope and then writing or typing and printing, etc., which requires minimal effort and people are lazy.
The ol’ message-in-a-bottle isn’t a bad way to go either, but presumably whoever finds it will be a coastal elite so once again you’re preaching to the choir. And sheep live near coasts, especially in Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand, or so I hear.
Dear [soon-to-be-former friend’s name here]:
Well, I tried to stay away but you went ahead and said a few hurtful things to someone I love so I have to speak up
or I will seem like a wuss.
You may have noted that two years ago I stopped commenting on those Breitbart-type things you post. We re-connected, and I wasn’t going to let a little political extremism get in the way of friendship. I advised [writer’s spouse/partner/etc.’s name here] to ignore you also, but for whatever reason she kept seeing your disgusting propaganda re-posts, and it was a matter of time before you posted something that required her commentary.
I’m not getting into specifics or semantics because it could be any number of the hundreds or even thousands of offensive things posted or said that I’m ignoring to remain friendly with you, so I’m not reading it all now just to get quotes for this letter.
That’s all well and good (a dumb expression, to be sure, as is “to be sure”), and of course you have a right to post what you like and to respond to whatever anyone says about your offensive posts, as this is a free country for the time being. But you had to use those “dog-whistle” words you people like (I’m not listing here. You know what I mean), which are of course insulting to those on the receiving end, as must be your intent because we both know you’re too clever and crafty to chose words by accident.
[Your name], I love you man. You are like a cousin to me.
I would say brother, but we hadn’t been in touch for decades, so I’ll stick with cousin. My kind ’a crazy, [list respected profession or accomplishments here, if any] cousin. I had a blast getting to know you in [college, the army, AA, etc.] and we had some incredible times, hitching to [a city in America], concerts, etc.
But the thing is, [use full given name here (formerly “Christian Name” but that term is probably no longer acceptable) instead of nickname, if appropriate], be clear about this: misogyny, racism, fascism, and all of the other stuff that is either hinted at or outright supported in the uninhibitedly vile things you post are not “alternate views” (your term) to the vast majority of thinking people. They are not views at all.
You might notice that you are very alone among the people and the culture from which you sprung. Are the rest of us “sheeple?” Are you the one who will educate us on the truth about the Deep State? About how the Clintons control the world and are sex traffickers? About the Women’s March being about “killing and hate?” About the Zionist conspiracy that controls the banks? About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
Good lord [back to nickname], this is stuff for the progeny of first cousins dwelling in an unfinished basement in grandma’s house somewhere on the prairie [okay, no fair to prairie-dwellers, but an insult was called for here, and no expense was spared], not an educated individual from educated parents in a community that recognizes basic human kindness! And a Jew, posting anti-Semitic propaganda? And don’t tell me it isn’t, either.
What is this, Uncle Chaim’s Cabin? Where are we, Vichy?
[Wife’s name] said some ridiculous and offensive things about gay people to [my person’s name here], whose daughter is gay, but she let it pass at the time out of respect for my friendship with you. [Wife’s name] probably doesn’t even realize she’s doing this. But she should.
In any event, let me respond to her comments. Women don’t turn gay because they can’t find a man because all the men in San Francisco are gay! Where is she from? Where are you people from? The same place I’m from [hypothetically]! How does this happen?
When you started [list a few kookie things this person did long ago], I thought, well that’s [his name]! When you decided to move around the corner presumably to get away from [another crazy manipulative friend] (which I probably should have done also), I thought, okay that’s bold. When you painted the entire ceiling and walls of your bedroom glossy black, I thought, okay this is getting a bit nuts. But it was also great! Funny! Unprecedented! It made a real impression.
But never did I think you’d go all-in on the right wing stuff [hypothetical friend]. Are people coming to get you? Need your gun on you at all times? Paranoia? Who wants to kill you? Maybe you’d love someone to jump you on the street, just to experience shooting someone without going to jail. Wouldn’t that be cool? You’d be an NRA hero!
Does [your employer] mind you posting this stuff? Your colleagues? Or is it just everyone who cares about you who finds this stuff offensive and beneath you and themselves? This saddens me. (After deciding to mail this and looking for an address at [your stated employer], I see you are no longer affiliated. Maybe they did mind. So you either gave up your job or were fired because of your posts? Wow. That’s real commitment.)
Anyway, I don’t really want to offend, but the way you insulted and mansplained to [my spouse/partner/etc.] didn’t sit well with me and required a response. Your old pals all know you get a little thrill getting a rise out of people (you’ve been at that since I met you), manipulating responses and emotions in your little mad scientist way, and that’s a fine hobby, but not when it makes people I care about (and you should care about also) feel badly. Then you lose people.
There’s a big difference between posting a personal opinion or an idea, and assaulting people with made-up bullshit that is offensive on so many levels. And you know it is. Just reporting both sides, [his name]? Please. You can say that 1000 times and no one will fall for it. You’re not as good a propagandist as your hero Bannon.
I know you have some resentment about how people treated you in the past (I don’t think that includes me; I have always been very respectful of your idiosyncrasies). And that’s not uncommon. Many people have those feelings. But maybe those people think your world view is bizarre and based on conspiracy theories? Just a hunch.
We (it’s not only me, my friend) just wish you and your wife would come out into the light dude. You read too much conspiracy bullshit. People make that stuff up because they’re bored or pathetic. Are there machinations going on behind the scenes? The military-industrial complex? Hell yes! But a bunch of Jews running the world? Give me a fucking break. That’s fairy tales of losers who can’t succeed so they need someone to blame. A scapegoat. A tiny minority. Blacks. Mexicans. Jews. Muslims. Gays. That’s how Nazis do it. You lost relatives in the Holocaust (if you still believe that happened and was’t made up by George Soros), as many of us did, so… WTF???!!
Please [his name]. Start paying attention to some “alternate views” yourself. Or at least don’t broadcast that you think this way. The only people who see your posts, people you went to school with or grew up with or worked with, will never think like you or agree with the people whose writings you re-post, and most will justifiably be offended or think you’re crazy. Your posts won’t change anyone’s worldview because they are basically either ludicrous or downright crazy-cakes. Literally 4 people of your grand total of 40 Facebook friends actually see them. One of those four just unfriended you.
A thought. Maybe you want us to hate you? I mean all of us, at least the few that are left? Maybe you get a bump out of that. But I don’t hate you, [nickname], I don’t. If I did, I would be enjoying writing this. Hate is so much work. And writing this is a drag.
You’ve made yourself the life you want, the [home], [wife], the [beloved pets], a good living, and I admire that. But you can’t just keep spewing offensive shit and not expect this kind of reaction. You’re too self-aware for that so I’m guessing you do it on purpose. You may be enjoying yourself. But you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of good people.
Anyway, I know I’m going to get blasted in response. Have at it. But you better damn well write it by hand or type and print (I prefer the latter, as you have horrible handwriting), lick the freakin’ envelope and stamp and put it in a mailbox or I ain’t readin’.
Okay so I didn’t write love after all that.
This country is in pretty sad shape right now, with the division of reality, and there’s nothing much to say. We preach to the people we agree with these days. This country was built on discussion and debate, but at this point, the extreme left and extreme right are drowning out us folks in the middle. The right wants some kind of segregated wild, wild West with a big fence around it, and the left wants free everything for everyone and just hand over the government to a bunch of neophytes with no practical governing experience. Oh wait, the right wants that last part too.
The point is, there is still a silent majority (not as silent anymore) of Americans with more moderate views who understand that change, which has already started to move in a positive direction despite this current set-back, takes time. Sure it would be great to have universal healthcare for all, but to get there will take steps to overcome resistance.
And stop talking about revolution! Talk about a gross misuse of a word. This is a kind of willful ignorance. Revolutions have a few things in common: rapid change, violence, carnage, blood-letting and death. Look it up. Things that evolve and grow gradually with deliberation survive. Things that change quickly and impulsively have a tendency to fail. And quickly.
To illustrate this further, here are a few lines from an old ditty by a rather smart fellow that you might recall. The central meaning has not been changed by including only parts of the lyrics.
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world….
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out….
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait…
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head…
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow…
– Copyright 1968 Lennon-McCartney
Not sure if we know it’s gonna be all right this time.
Yes, we all want to change the world, but the constitution is there for a reason. And there is no room for people with minds that hate. And revolution is not a word, it’s a thing, an event, and it involves destruction.
And why did Lennon include Chairman Mao, a communist? Because you can’t make people change suddenly. It all takes time, patience, and I guess, love.
Enough with the lecture. Next week will be funnier.
Smoking in Bed is not political, although there is some carnage, and it does poke fun at Dick Cheney and terrorists. I know, terrorism isn’t funny, but I like a challenge.