These are truly dangerous times, people. I’m not making reference to the obvious outcasts of society, like the twisted neo-nazi who drove his car into a crowd of people this past weekend in Virginia. Or, our so-called President who let several days pass before bowing to pressure and being forced to disavow them.
I’m talking about us Regular Folks. Those of us who go to work every day, sit in traffic, go for a run, surf the net, etc. The ones who have to live under the blanket of the constant turmoil caused by our failing leaders. The ones who aren’t mentally unstable, who aren’t members of an alt-right militia, and whose views aren’t distorted to the point where we believe the only way forward is to commit an act of domestic terrorism, taking things we say/do on social media way too seriously.
Because if the underlying current of rage and divisiveness I bared witness to online the last few days, most of which spewed forth from the mouths of supposedly intelligent individuals responding to my tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, is a representation of where we’re at as a whole within our day to day interactions via the social media landscape, we should all be very concerned. As the tensions between us, even those on the ‘same side’, seem to be simmering to a boil, and our ability to discern what’s said in jest and what is serious is slowly eviscerating.
Last week, I posted a comment on my Facebook page basically saying I thought the outfit Hillary wore to her billionaire friend’s daughter’s wedding resembled a shower curtain, and she could do with a makeover. I’ve made much more serious comments about many more serious subjects in the past that went completely unresponded to. This particular one, however, seemed to hit a nerve with a lot of, not only Hillary supporters, but Hillary haters, as well as females -and males, alike. The former of whom accused me of being everything from a misogynist and/or a sexist, to an outright “dickhead”, to someone whose mother should disown him, and, of course, the ultimate insult - being a Trump supporter. Etc., etc.
Those who know me (out of my thirty-three hundred or so friends I’d say I only actually know about 100) know my posts are primarily devoted to two main categories: Ant-Trump rhetoric and sarcasm. They also know I stand for women’s rights, equal pay, pro-choice, believe a woman would make a far better choice for President than a man, etc., etc.
Thus, knowing me, they either shrugged it off, chuckled, or, at the worst, told me I shouldn’t be so shallow and went on with their lives. Others, however, most of whom never met me and have never spoken a word to me in my life, took to my page like Daenerys’s dragons, swooping down to defend the honor of their queen mother in danger, complete with breath of fire. Calling me all sorts of names, insulting my manhood/sexuality, suggesting I’d never say that about a man (even though I’ve commented dozens of times on how Bernie should’ve combed his freaking hair, got his suits from someplace other than Kohl’s, etc.), and reacting with such ferocity you’d think I publicly came out in support of kiddie porn.
Keep in mind, I didn’t comment on any part of her body, her weight, skin-tone, wrinkles, the way she walked, her pointy ‘witch’ shoes, etc., or anything referencing her character/personality. I simply said her dress made her look like a Taiwanese doll (most of which are quite beautiful, btw) and I was lambasted and taken to task as if I fat-shamed a twelve year-old mentally challenged girl on Youtube. I could’ve gone Live and killed a puppy and the reaction would have been more subdued. But, as I discovered, make fun of Hillary, in any capacity, and you’re asking for trouble.
This appears to go more so for her than for other women, as I wonder, if it had been Kim K.’s outfit that I criticized, would the reaction have been as equally supportive of women’s rights and seen the same angry ones rushing to Kimmie’s defense?
I’m not a stylist or fashionista - Lord knows, I wear the same pair of jeans almost every day and shop at Century 21 - so, to pretend to know anything about style or what’s hot is not my thing by a long shot. Nor do I care. Yet, so much of the blowback was directed at asking me who the hell I thought I was criticizing - not just Hillary’s - but any woman’s appearance. Again, had the comment come from a gay man, say Perez Hilton or Mario Cantone commenting on the fact her caftan made her look like she was on her way to a reenactment of Lawrence of Arabia, or said that Mrs. Roper wore it better, would the reaction have been as visceral?
The ironic part is many of the females hurling insults at me for poking fun of a woman’s wardrobe choice are most likely the same ones you see whispering to each other at the mall or the supermarket about how those shoes make that one “look like a ho.” And, while most of us males are well aware of the reverse double standard that exists re: not being able to comment on how a woman looks to a woman - we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t - I had no idea it would be taken so far, and out of context, on a simple Facebook post. Live and learn.
In any case, within a few hours the post had taken on a life of its own (it’s still going, btw); with references made and arguments started based on everything from misogyny and sexism, to inequality in the workplace, to the double standard between women and men, to Melania’s nude pics (those should go w/out saying), to the fact that “Hillary doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone,” to Jill Stein stealing the election, to Ken Starr, to Russia, to Bernie, to Princess Di, to the pay gap at the HRC Foundation, and, of course, to the reasons she lost. Her self-admitted stiff and stuffy image being front and center. All, complete with the typos and grammatical errors you’d expect from one so passionate and typing so fast and furiously, they push send without even bothering to proofread.
One comment suggested I lay off because the “horror she’d been through” gave her the right to dress however she wants. “Horror”?
I’m sorry, while Ms. H. may have had more than her fair share of stress and ridicule, she’s not an ISIS sex slave. A Yazidi girl forced to endure years of daily rapes at the hands of Godless monsters - that’s horror. Being a politician, staying married to Bill after his dozens of affairs were made public, and choosing to run for POTUS, these are all choices she made. No one forced her into any of it. And, if i’m correct, she’s pretty well-compensated for her ‘horror’, earning several hundred thousand dollars for just an hour of her time. I’ll take that kind of horror any day.
Another ‘friend’, with thousands of followers, who has since blocked me, trolled me on her page after responding with fury to several of my friends who defended me and tried to get her to calm down. The best part, she’s a comedian.
I’ll admit, when I first noticed some of the overzealous responses, I would post something sardonic that would tweak them more to see where it would go. But, after a while, when I saw others begin hurling vicious insults towards each other - again, folks who never met, I realized there’s something very wrong here.
Keep in mind, most of the comments were from liberals - some Hillary supporters, some Bernie supporters, some independents, some not even from this country, and mostly all Trump haters. So, to see this kind of infighting at this level, makes you wonder if it’s a microcosm of what’s out there as a whole?
Are we that fragmented and divided at this point we’ll turn on each other in an instant like an angry mob out for virtual blood over a Facebook post? Are the Hillary haters and defenders out there so steadfast in their respective beliefs they’ll tear each other apart over it? We know who wins if they do and he’s laughing his ass off every day because of it.
Those who fight for tolerance of all races, creeds and colors should be able to tolerate each other’s meaningless Facebook posts without World War lll breaking out. There’s already a real one in the making as we speak and it doesn’t need any help from us.
Fascism, on either side, is a dangerous thing. Being steadfast in the belief that All men are created equal is as noble a cause as there is. But the willingness to pick up a virtual hammer and bash someone’s head in, who may have a different view about the same subject, is quite disturbing. Where will this type of rhetoric, intolerance, and seething anger leads us as we try and move forward as a nation? How much of the hate that we dish out at each other online manifests itself in our daily lives? I’m no sociology professor, but the answer is, probably a lot.
We’re already seeing the crackpots cracking all over the place due to the divisive nature of our leadership and the fact they seem to revel in it, but what about those of us who aren’t reading books on bomb building? As we walk down the street, many of us are already instant enemies, be it accidentally bumping into someone on a check out line, sitting too close to someone on the subway - (I tried to take a tiny corner of a seat recently and the woman sitting there screamed at me as if I had tried to set her on fire), getting cut off in traffic, etc. The level of immediate animosity we have toward each other right out of the gate seems to be at an all time high.
Part of the reason could be that, back in the day, you weren’t subjected to everyone’s opinions every ten seconds, everywhere you looked. Thirty, forty years ago, we all had the same opinions we do now, but being able to share every-single thing you think, any time you want, with everyone, leads to an inevitable conflict of ideas. And conflict of ideas is the main foundation for war. Be it global thermonuclear ones or social media ones.
Another contributing factor might be that most of us are still in post-election shock, still trying to grasp WTF happened and what’s happening, and believe anything negative said about anyone on “our side,” especially Hillary, is a potential disaster. “We can’t show division!” we liberals cry. “We must unite!” Yet, it seems we’re so busy fighting about how to come together, we end up dividing.
It’s no secret the democratic party is floundering. It’s always floundered. Always searched for the right message/messenger to sway the throngs of potential fence-sitters. But, now, in the face of a fascist, white supremacist supporting, environment-killing, Russia colluding, internationally embarrassing, unfiltered lunatic, to still not be able to win/convert voters is obviously at the root of the problem. The fracturing/infighting it’s causing amongst the party of tolerance/acceptance is crazy, as it does nothing but weaken our ability to fight back against the true enemy. Not that Trump is the only proponent and instigator of hate/separatism out there, but he’s the all-too-willing poster child for it.
In light of this type of walking-on-eggshells behavior, we’ve started taking ourselves way too seriously. We’ve lost the ability to laugh -when it should be the most important thing to hang onto -, and instead, wound up with a collective disposition as tight as a shock-spring, ready to pounce on anything and anyone who may set us off. Most of the time the reaction is completely disproportionate to the offense, especially when directed at those on the same side.
We’re all furious at a system that saw Hillary lose even though she won, especially Hillary, but making a quip about a dress she wore has nothing to do w/ any of it, nor does it mean someone’s a misogynist or a woman hater. That’s called over-generalizing. So continuing to use any excuse to begin whining about what happened on Nov. 8, will never change the outcome, or fix the bigger problems.
The insanity and instability of the Trump administration has spread like a parasitic virus to all of us. Heck, even The Huff Post, the biggest bastion of liberal journalism on the planet, has altered its views towards satire and humor due to the fear of being called fake news. They didn’t even see fit to promote a parody we did satirizing Trump’s attack on the Times that made it to Funny or Die’s front page, due to their over-blown paranoia about being trolled by Trump-supporting, Fox News types.
Many of us are horrified at the realization our system of democracy is failing as we speak but, other than sign online petitions, we’re not really sure what to do about it. We constantly seem to be asking the same questions. Questions we may never get answers to:
How did we let this happen? How do we stop it from happening again? What do we do now?
All valid, but one thing’s certain, and that is no matter who’s in office, we are all responsible for our own individual thoughts/actions, so the best way to fight those who choose to use hate as a weapon is to keep a level head as much as possible in the face of real threats/hate speech and to decide for ourselves which is which. Be it on a national scale, online, or one on one.
Not to mention, if we’d work on trying to refrain from instantly judging each other, especially those we don’t know and have never met, show a little more patience and tolerance, and, most importantly, make sure to realize which things to take seriously and which to not, we may discover that our goals are one in the same. And, of course, leave Hillary alone.
(Post script: After reading the above, so many are still commenting on the dress - as if that was the point of the piece - and thinking I’ve seriously switched parties. For the record, I don’t care what Hillary, or anyone, wears. And I don’t support Trump now because some Hillary supporter posted a derogatory comment about me. That’s laughable. I am entitled to an opinion and you are entitled not to agree - or, better yet, completely ignore it. But, do us all a favor, and stop proving my point by lashing out and calling me a misogynist over nonsense based on nonsense. In other words, “Lighten up, Francis.”)