Yeah, you’ve heard it all before. So have I, since I actually preach this message rather consistently. But alas, I forget. So, I figure you might as well.
REFRESHER COURSE ALERT!!!
Recently I got a friend request from a dude I recognized immediately as a nut. His Facebook icon was “Ted Cruz in 2016.” As I said, a nut.
Now, I should know better, but I could hardly turn down the chance to tell him he was an idiot before he unceremoniously “defriended” me could I? So I hit, the friend button and began a rather torturous journey into lala land or the land of the not-quite-right-in-the-head folks.
I picked up a good half dozen to eight “defenders of the stupid” and proceeded to get into a number of fights immediately. As one would expect, all the trite Fox/crazy right memes came to the fore. Since most of the arguments were on gun rights, I got the usual, “guns don’t kill people”, and criminals aren’t gonna obey the laws, and variations on those themes.
After lengthy logical argument and citing of actual facts, I was confronted with the usual right wing nothingness. One guy just posted funny pictures and called me Sherry McMoron and quote, “liberish”, as if that sealed the deal on my inconsequentialism.
And the point is, that when people are “out there in the ether” there is no point in argument. They aren’t capable of arguing, except for a “you stupid troll” between burps from the beer guzzling.
When you see somebody who is absolutely clueless, beware. You think you can patiently start at A and proceed slowly and deliberately to Z and when you are finished they will smile, and say, “I get it now. Thank you, I’m going to read more carefully from now on.”
But they don’t. They say, “you stupid troll,” and scratch their nether regions, smile and the mini thrill and reach for another Budweiser.
This will always happen no matter your level of debate and logic skills. And the reason is simple, if not understood by most. It’s not you. It’s not your argument. It’s their brain.
Study after study shows that the conservative brain is a brain that lives in fear of the bad world it is surrounded by. It cannot make sense of it all, and it feels threatened. Simple answers that package their fear and put it away is what they yearn for and gravitate toward. The are frightened and they are insecure in this big world. Small and simple answers that assure them that all will be right, captures them faster than any fact or logical deduction ever could.
They will cling to what is familiar, reassuring, and safe every time over logical argumentation that leaves them feeling insecure and unsure. It is not how they want to think, it’s how their brains function. It’s called compartmentalization. It allows the victim to ignore all contrary information and when necessary isolate contradictory beliefs behind walls that keep the conflict at a minimum. (I believe in creationism, while at the same time encourage my niece to get gene therapy for her cancer diagnosis, never bringing to the fore that gene therapy is a result of evolutionary biological research.)
Eventually we all come to realize that “there is no point” in arguing with such types, but we continue, at each new juncture, and with a different right wing nut case in the cross hairs, we fall victim to trying again. And we get the same result.
Lest we be declared insane for trying to get a different result from the same activity, we have to finally admit that such is a waste of time.
EXCEPT THAT. . . .
Facebook is a unique forum. We all have friends on Facebook, and they exist in a variety of forms–relatives, old old friends we have moved far from, new friends, eternal friends, coworkers, associates, church friends, organization friends, and the list goes on to infinity. These myriads of “friends” bring forth a variety of individual talents.
I am graced with some great Facebook friends and I owe them a debt of gratitude. They have taught me so very much. Their passion, while not necessarily mine, has served to inform me on many a subject I would be unaware of without them.
I would never know how cruel and awful housing small whales and dolphins in small tanks is, alone and without their families. I would never know about the issues regarding Monsanto, and Tyson and other vile corporate entities that endanger our health in the chase for the almighty dollar. I’ve had my theological foundation firmed, and loosened by a couple of theologians I know.
I could go on for a couple of pages. You see, I know all sorts of people in the Facebook way, and by and large, I’m enriched from the experience. The people I disagree with, remain small, but more importantly they are vehicles for dissemination.
Here’s where I tie this all together. . . .
While it is unprofitable in general to get into discussions with right wing crazies en mass, isolated encounters in otherwise friendly terrain, does serve a purpose. And that purpose is, they give one the excuse to lay out all the arguments that you can muster on an issue.
Rather than be the usual waste of time that we have encountered in large groups, in small ones, you don’t get overwhelmed. Much like big corporations make it hard to be sued by “papering” the opposing counsel with so many requests, demands, depositions, discovery, endless motions and so forth, when six or eight people are all ganging up on you, well, most people don’t have TIME to respond properly.
Responding improperly does more harm than good.
Why does this matter?
Because in every group, there are outsiders, people who live on the fringe, reading but almost never uttering a word. They are not crazies, but they aren’t politically aware either. They are busy living their lives, and barely bump into most of the political and social issues of our day. They do however, at leisure, read posts and comments, blogs and so forth.
They are not ideologically motivated. They are bright people, normal in every sense of the world except they aren’t much interested in the body politic or how it functions. Until it waylays them personally (and many it never will), they don’t get involved.
But, they do read. They do comprehend. They do get logic, and they do check out links. They will listen to a cogent argument and if not offset by superior information going in the other direction, they will agree with you.
They won’t deliver fliers in their neighborhoods or make phone calls for a candidate, but they will vote (if not too inconvenient) and they will vote consistent with the facts as they have come to understand them.
They are your audience always.
You have to trust that they are there. They are, I assure you. Every once in a while I get a message or email from one of them, telling me they have “lurked” for some time, and agree or have been led to agree to this idea or that.
Those are the people you are writing and talking to. They don’t have time to do the research you do, but they appreciate it. They can tell the difference between your citation to reputable sources and the other sides reliance on “common sense”.
They recognize that common sense to the right wing is akin to “what I want to believe is true because it makes me feel better.”
Your efforts are thus not offered in vain. Remember that you talk not only to who is directly before you, but all those who are within eye or earshot.
What it means for me personally, is to try to remember, (no matter how angry I often become at intransigent thinking), that calm, factual offerings are much more successful that bombast and snappy retorts that serve to explain only how loathsome the right wing fanatic can be.
So I thank all those who have taught me so much on Facebook. And I am thankful for Facebook which provides that unique platform allowing me a cornucopia of “friends” that insure a range of opinions, talents, passions, and hard facts.
The post is powerful, more powerful than you think. So do be mindful of the audience out there, ephemeral as it may appear. This is your job. They depend on you for accurate information on an unimaginably wide source of things. Surely you can offer your services on a few of them?
Make a difference!