New Introductory Note: To give this the proper context, I should mention this was originally written in October of 2016, one month before an election that changed everything in America. I’m reposting it now because, even though the specifics of this piece are a bit dated, the overall need for a fundamental change in society is even more urgent than it was two years ago…
Original Note: Here’s a little something that I will be sharing on a certain social media site. It doesn’t really apply to my experience here on WordPress, but it does apply to a lot of social media and I think some of you might appreciate the words…
This here piece is somethin’ I been wantin’ to write for quite a spell, but I kept puttin’ it off cuz even the best of us don’t want to slam no doors if we don’t have to. It’s just not neighborly, and I always believed you should say hey to your neighbor even if you don’t really care for them. That’s just what you do, if you’re of a right mind.
But here’s the thing: Another part of that right mind is understandin’ that there comes a point when you can’t pretend no more. The neighborly wave feels downright awful when you know you’re wavin’ at somebody that don’t care two cents about your own happiness. All they want to do is ride roughshod over your own beliefs and slap you in the face if you question that roughshod.
That’s not a way to live. That’s not a way to show respect, on either side. The goodness of people comes from our ability to accept one another for what we are, or hope to be, not from lashing out at things we don’t understand. Why some people don’t get this, I don’t get myself.
I used to be on the Facebook all the time, every day. I’d click on this and like on that and do what I could to make everybody feel special, because we should. None of us are any less important than the other, even if some of us say stupid things from time to time. If I really didn’t appreciate somethin’ somebody said, I’d just let it roll by. That’s not me and I’m not a part of that. Ignore and go on.
But I really can’t do that anymore. I did try, for a long time, to turn the other cheek. But something important, something fundamental, has changed with some of the folks in this country. Wait, scratch that. Those folks didn’t really change. They always were what they are, dark and bitter, but they somehow knew to be kinda quiet about it, murmurin’ in the night instead of hollerin’ in the daylight. Now? They holler like a stuck pig every chance they get.
I suppose there’s a coupla things behind this. One is this Internet thing. There was a time when the only people your trash talk could affect was the people you could meet in person, be it at the barn dance or the VFW or the gun range or wherever the hell it was that you could find like-minded folk. You could stoke the fire and plot your revenge against the people who done you wrong, which means anybody who is different from you, but most of that mess would fizzle away just as soon as the tap ran out on the beer keg and folks had to get home so they could go to church in the morning.
Gotta say this: Don’t mean to tarnish the religious. I got spiritual beliefs of my own, bits and pieces that I draw from all faiths, puttin’ em together in a way that makes sense to me, helps me figure out what is right and what is wrong. But it’s fair to say that some churches, or better yet, some congregations, have taken it upon themselves to be the judge and jury, and there’s something straight-out wrong with that. Salvation is personal, between you and your own light, not something to be decided by people with too much time on their hands.
Anyway, this Internet thing was invented, and people who didn’t know each other from a hole in the ground can now spur each other on with lies and hatred. Most of it ain’t true, but when messed-up people find other messed-up people, they egg each other on with those lies and that hate.
The other thing that stirs up the poison is a political party in this country that has decided the only way they can win is turnin’ people against each other. Some folks call it a cultural divide, I call it a people divide, a fundamental disrespect for things you don’t know. This whole mess started with Reagan, a shady man who was and is considered a messiah by some of the people in the party that I’m not naming but we all know who I’m talkin’ about. This man proclaimed that greed is good, that rich people are better than poor people, that the union workers who built this country have no rights, and that people with AIDS should die because it would help his party win more elections.
There is no honor in that. None. Justify it all you want, but the man had no shame, and he and his minions did their best to allow corporations to run roughshod over the common folk, encouraged Wall Street to forget about humanity, and he had a part in the dismantling of libel and slander laws, a gutting of checks and balances that now allows politicians and conservative talk show hosts to say whatever they want without any regard for truth or responsibility.
All of which has led to our current trickle-down situation (as opposed to the Trickle-Down Theory of Economics which Reagan used to mislead the country) wherein certain political and social “leaders” are spewing outlandish lies that have nothing to do with reality. In my opinion, if you say it, you should have to prove it, and if you can’t, then you should shut the hell up. Better yet, you should go to jail. Sounds harsh, I suppose, but if you throw a fake brick, you own that brick, and you own the damage it makes when it lands. What the hell has happened in this country that people are no longer held responsible for their own actions?
That’s what gets me, right there. The lack of ownership. You don’t have to like people, much less love ‘em. That’s your right. But what’s not your right? Hurtin’ other innocent people with your willful, ignorant actions. This is somethin’ I can’t get my head around, this delusional, violent hatred. And the complete lack of guilt on the part of the people doin’ the hatin’ and the lyin’, spewin’ terrible stuff that they can never prove because it ain’t true and, most important, they know it’s not true and they say it anyway.
And I don’t wanna hear any mess about that’s just how the haters was raised, they don’t know any different cuz they come from a long line of people with blackness in their hearts. There’s no excuse anymore. If you have one lick of gumption, five minutes in the day, you can find out the truth about damn near anything. We’re in a digital world now, and the information is out there, the real information, and you can see what’s really going on. ‘Course, you ain’t gonna see it if you always run to one of those cesspool sites full of crap, like Breitbart News or Fox News, neither of which has earned the right to be called a “news” organization.
Yes, I know some of you might point a finger and say “how come you get to hate on news shows just because you don’t like what they say while at the same time sayin’ we shouldn’t hate on anybody”? Well, here’s this: Breitbart and Fox and Beck and Limbaugh and Coulter and whoever the hell is this year’s Sarah Palin know that they are all up in the fertilizer but they don’t care, because they also know that their fertilizer smells just like what the haters want to smell. So they keep shovelin’. This is what the digital age has become. People who should never have had a voice can have one if they’ve got an internet connection and a keyboard.
Which brings me back around to where I really wanted to go with my ramblin’. I used to be a big fan of the Facebook. It was a hoot findin’ people I ain’t seen in a while, catchin’ up and seein’ what they been up to. But the more time I spent on Facebook, the more I could see that there was a hell of a lot people who been up to things that I can’t stomach. My feed on Facebook was always a bit gnarly, peppered with things I didn’t want to see, the hate and lies I been talkin’ about. Like I said, I ignored it for a long time. But the nastiness is increasing, and it started doin’ so about the time a certain misogynist started risin’ in the presidential polls. He’s not the only source of the problem, of course, but he’s embraced the hate, made love to it, and sounded a trumpet call to gather his flock so they can go forth and hate some more.
My daily Facebook feed is filled with racism, xenophobia, utter ignorance, unfounded calls to arms and a complete lack of respect for humanity. Yeah, I’ve been blocking some of the most offensive people, but it saddens me to be doing such, especially when it’s people that were once friends or even family members. My soul can only take so much and I just don’t care for it anymore.
Which is why I will no longer be on Facebook. Yep, I’m gonna miss a lot of good people who would never in a million years be somethin’ that I wouldn’t respect. I want to stay close to the good people. I just can’t do it anymore on a platform that not only tolerates hatred but defends it as well. (I’ve personally reported horrible public pages, full of lynchin’ cartoons and hollerin’ about killin’ the President. Every time, I get a response from Facebook that they didn’t find nothin’ wrong with the page. Check the page again, still the lynchin’ and killin’. How can you look at that and not think it’s wrong? Unless you got at least a little bit of that page in yourself.)
I’m gonna spend my time now on other sites, where I don’t see that mess. I’m sure it’s there as well, cuz there are crazies everywhere these days, but at least I don’t see it like I do on Facebook, and that’s what I need right now, the not seein’. Some folks might think I’m bein’ a titty baby about all this, and that’s fine, they can think what they want, free country. But I’m old enough to understand that when somethin’ gets ya agitated, you should stop doin’ it.
I’ll leave my personal page up cuz for some folks that’s the only way they know to find me, in case somethin’ comes up I need to know about. And I’ll keep workin’ on my author page, partly cuz that affects my writing career but mostly cuz I can control the feed instead of reactin’ to it. You can join me over there if you want, but somethin’ tells me that the people who truly want to hear from me are already over there.
Just thought I should let you know the why-fors and the whatnots. I owe at least that to the many decent people I met over the years. Those good folks may not be happy to read this, but they know in their hearts what’s in mine and why I need to do this.
Originally published in “Bonnywood Manor” on 10/14/16. No changes made, other than the brief new intro and this outro. For the record, I do still visit Facebook from time to time, mainly because it’s the only way I can keep in touch with a few folks, but it has a very limited appeal. Sort of like looking at one of your dusty high-school yearbooks, where you fondly remember special friends and the things you’ve shared, but you really don’t know most of those people anymore…
Note on the photo: I like this shot, one of the many hundreds I’ve taken in Spain and the same one I used with the original post, because it gives a sense of a way out of this mess, but the closed gate reminds you that there are certain things we should avoid, for the good of all…