Monday, August 3, 2015

Facebook Files 3: Abandon all hope ye who comment here

You would be right to chastise me. 

Or at the very least admonish. 

In the past month, I've sought both civil discourse and even a little faith in humanity. Problem being, I went searching for it on the Internet. More to the damning point, I looked for it on Facebook. So you would be entirely within the warrants of justice and reason to say:

"Jon, just what the hell were you thinking?"

I know. No really, I know. Even knowing what awaits me, I just can't help but click on that "comments" link when there's an article posted on a hot button issue. I seldom learn anything new by doing so, at least not anything I really wanted to know. I'm just further convinced that there is a special kind of hell out there and it is called "the comments section." 

Here are my observations/experiences of the past month in "The Facebook Files":

-There was a particularly scathing video released regarding practices at Planned Parenthood. What the video captured was unsettling for a great many and provided a boomlet for anti-abortion activists and social conservatives. Morbidly curious, I checked a few Facebook pages to see what those on the right-handed end of spectrum were saying. Most of what was on Glenn Beck's wall was predictable, but one commenter named David caught my eye.

He wanted to know what "realistic alternatives" people would recommend for unexpected pregnancies. To their credit, many conservatives brought up adoption and proposed mechanisms to cut through the red tape of adoption as well as reduce its godawful five-figure price tag. That, as pointed out, would seem to insist that the pregnant woman carry the child to term, thereby bringing her rights into question. When this question was raised, it elicited the following responses:

"Then sterilization!"
"Make sex before marriage illegal!"
"I just don't understand. We're talking about the lives of BABIES!"

In a recent addition to the discussion, someone posted recent news that Senator Mitch McConnell, currently leading the charge against Planned Parenthood, voted in the 1990s to support fetal tissue research. 

The response on this point?

" I'm done talking to you. It's no use."
"I hope you one day let Jesus into your hard heart."

I see. Moving on.

-So there was this deal with Iran. Conservatives weren't all that happy with it. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee compared the deal to the Holocaust, decrying President Obama as "marching Israelis to the door of the oven." Senator Tom Cotton compared Obama to Pontius Pilate. 
Apparently, negotiation and compromise is unwelcome among many conservatives, even though past Republican presidents have successfully used it to their advantage. 
The agreement has shortcomings, just as any deal would. So what does the populace have to say on Facebook and news sites?

"You liberals are so naive! The first thing Iran will do is build a nuclear weapon! The next thing they'll do is nuke Israel!"

"Just what I thought u know nothing like Obama." 

"If Iran violates this agreement, Whoopie Goldberg will expose her genitalia on Iranian TV for 15 minutes. How's that for bringing about a disaster of apocalyptic I proportions"

I see. Moving on.

-I used to belong to a political discussion group on Facebook that shall remain nameless. That's right. Used to. A recent discussion involved the points and nuances of what it means to be Libertarian. Cheeky little jackass that I am, I posted a meme to the comments section about "Libertarian snow removal" in an effort to lighten the mood. Here's the response that I received:

"Jon, if you knew anything about what being Libertarian really means, you would see how stupid that meme really is. Try reading more about libertarianism and maybe you'll come more towards the center."

I attempted to explain that the post was a joke, but the incensed commenter didn't seem too interested. So much for "uniting proponents of red, blue, and in between."

-An article appeared on the Daily Dot carrying the title: "I'm a married college graduate but I'm still forced to live at home with my parents." While the headline might seem rather whiney at first blush, it was meant to be (as I read it, anyway), an examination of the difficulties of getting by in today's economy despite optimistic views from the White House on job trends. Another enlightened soul, whom I will refer to as MM, chose to see this as an opportunity to attack the column's author on her terrible choice to pursue academic work in journalism, deriding her that she chose not to study "MARKETABLE SKILLS!!!" that would allow her and her family to live "ON HER OWN DIME!!!!"

I asked MM just what "MARKETABLE SKILLS!!!" he referred to. I'm guessing anything in business, IT, or engineering would be top tier choices. What, however, is one to do if they are not especially suited for those fields or have no interest in them? Do it anyway? I pointed out that I once worked a job solely for the paycheck, 50 hours a week to help some guy sell his widgets, and it nearly killed me. I could no longer imagine that the purpose of life was to work a job simply to survive. There must be a way for one to obtain work that both allows one to survive and is fulfilling to them as a human being. The response I received from a "Chris" whose Facebook profile identifies him as being a "conservative Republican"?

"Congrats on being a p*ssy Jon."

Yep. GOP in 2016.

-Finally, we come to the sad case of Cecil the lion. He was hunted (illegally it would seem) and killed in Zimbabwe by an unethical individual name Walter Palmer. Initially, I was quite heartened by the global outpouring of grief for Cecil and disdain for Palmer as well as others engaged in the barbaric practice of sport hunting endangered animals. The condemnation was fierce. So much so that Palmer was forced to at least temporarily close his business and go into hiding. Yet Facebook had other ideas of just what I should be outraged over rather than the senseless killing of Cecil. Even John Fugelsang, whom I usually like, got in on the act. Here's a polite smattering of the suggestions:

"Planned Parenthood butchering babies."
"ISIS killing Americans."
"Americans killed by gun violence."
"The death of Sandra Bland."

Deep breath in. Political issues are not mutually exclusive. Anger one feels over a particular issue does not discount or lessen the weight of all others. To suggest otherwise is similar to criticisms over #blacklivesmatter. "Are you saying only black lives matter?" No, of course not. There is, however, an obvious issue that needs to be addressed. Sadly, we seem to have no shortage of those so plenty of outrage to go around. I can be angry over the murder of Cecil and other living beings like him as well as see that other things are wrong. Outside of that, I'll make up my own mind as to where I should direct my outrage. Thanks.

That's been my month. If you don't mind, I'm going to take a break from the comments section for a while.

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