There was a time, back in the very early 2000s when I and my “friends” on Facebook could have issue-specific discussions of various topics without ever resorting to demonizing personalities or scurrilous labelling in order to cover up for a failure of insight or verifiable supporting data. Those discussions were fascinating and educational and often led all parties into a reconsideration of initial positions, due in large part to the intelligence of the participants.
But that has changed. Sycophantic partisans for whom thinking, as a personal behavioral, cognitive action, is heretical and for whom original thoughts are elusive, have taken over the social media discussions. They hide their ignorance of history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and geopolitics by posting not discussion-generating opening discussion points but mostly cutesy, simplistic, often sleazy, frequently misleading, memes and posts designed to impress equally ignorant sycophants with the self-declared brilliance of the one doing the posting and sharing of the thoughts of others and to stifle dissenting opinion. And I assume it works with those other low-information “friends” based on their supportive comments.
But it has no traction with anyone of any measurable level of intelligence.
The only truth contained in those simplistic posts is what is revealed about the posting individuals. And that is that anytime someone resorts to ad hominem, mean spirited, class-less, and accuracy challenged cartoons, re-quoted photos, and smarmy innuendo against those with whom they disagree, the material as far more revealing of the lack of class and intellect of the ones making or sharing the posts than it is of their targets. If they actually had something of value to contribute then they could provide us with their original thinking that identified the issues and shared their views of the solutions to them. But as pawns, parrots, and puppets of their political masters they have nothing to contribute on their own but the regurgitation of their party’s talking points and bumper-sticker level clever quotes to support those talking points.
I not only am not impressed, I am finally, belatedly, but thoroughly disgusted with it and, more importantly, with ME that I would allow the term “friend,” even in the meaningless Facebook Universe, to associate them and me. They apparently cannot help or solve their ignorance… but I can, and I can remove it from my world.
I would welcome and love debate and discussion with intelligent people of different philosophical persuasions than myself. I am blessed that in my life I have a number of such people. Because we are open to it, all of us have, at one time or another, come to see and accept the conflicting opinion of the other. We respect each other and so take another’s conflicting opinion as something we have to consider and see how it fits with our own knowledge, history, associations, etc. and why someone we respect would hold that which, to us to begin with, is an erroneous view. It can be enormously uncomfortable as is any paradigm threatening thought. But it is the only method to work through the intellectual dross to some measure of truth.
But that is not the world of Facebook as it has become. It could have been. It could have been a forum for serious and important discussion. Instead it has facilitated the sort of irrational blind screed posting that is directly indicative of, and responsible for, the dangerous gridlock in which our government is now mired. I do not know why the internet has so generated and coddled the rapid descent, even from an intellectually valid start, into one flame war of idiocy after another. But it seems as if that descent from intellect to stupidity occurs over and over and not just on Facebook but on forums all over the topical spectrum.
I can’t change that. Trying to argue with a bull-headed idiot is like spitting into a tornado and redefines pointlessness. And anyone of their “friends” stupid enough to think those memes speak to the truth is equally beyond intellectual redemption through enforced critical thinking; so it is equally pointless to try to post responses from which OTHERS may profit.
But there IS something I can do to try to keep my own ethics in tact; I can leave that moronic discourse to those whose intellect it matches and devote my time, energies, and efforts to discussions with those who are honestly seeking answers, solutions, and the truth of the issues facing our country and our society.
So instead of continuing to engage those stupid posts and posters, from now on I’ll simply and instantly “unfriend” anyone who posts or shares them no matter what side of the issues they are on. We need honest, comprehensive discussions… but we do not need another sleazy, misleading, demonizing Facebook post whose main goal is not to engender debate but to shut it down. I’ll keep on seeking and enjoying legitimate and serious discussion forums; but Facebook and many of my “friends” are clearly incapable of it so I am done with it.
My action will certainly not stop them or even slow them much. But it will take an unacceptable level of continuously published nonsense out of my life. And hopefully it will slow or stop the serious erosion of respect I once had for many of the “friends” by protecting them from my awareness of their lapses of intellect and insights.