Facebook Trolls and Such: There’s a Meme for That

I have a blog site https://thearmchairobserver/ and I have a Facebook page for my blog https://www.facebook.com/thearmchairobserver/(come visit me). Facebook lets me buy ads so I can have the posts I write on my blog site “pushed out” onto the pages of unsuspecting Facebook users. I think the invasion of someone’s personal space is justified because my motives are existential. I am trying to save our democracy/republic from Donald the Destroyer, crusher of all things Constitutional – he who tramples our humanity by allowing people who just want to steal freedom to die crossing a border that no eagle can see – the friend of Putin and Kim Jung Un – liar – escape artist – fearmonger – user – abuser – possible traitor and much, much more.

Once in a while one of my articles attracts some attention, usually from someone who believes Trump will soon be reelected and who likes to call Democrats names and taunt and troll them. Recently an article I wrote about “Trump and the Dangers of Toadyism” https://www.thearmchairobserver.com/trump-and-the-dangers-of-toadyism/ 

was shared by Facebook and got a surprising number of not very educated responses and a few zingers. Why create an original comment when there’s a meme for that. Although almost no one talked about the article’s content, a lot of people had a lot to say. This time people responded who wish to see Trump leave office, and those who wish to keep him in office. They were aiming memes at each other and calling each other names, and just venting. It was an internet duel, “take that”, no you “take this”. Comic book stuff – Pow – Bam – Zowie – Gotcha. It is easy to feel that we would all come to blows if we spoke to each other like this in person. Is it a good thing for people to express their bile or their sentiments? Maybe. But I don’t think anyone of the commenters changes the mind of any other commenter. Every one leaves feeling the same as when they arrived. Here is some of what people had to say:

Patrick O(no last names): Well fffffuck you too!

Nancy B(me): Patrick – Use your words

Robert M: Nancy B – lol

Marc Depa: Meme – Picture of Trump smiling Caption “Can’t wait to serve 4 more years for my crimes in Federal Prison.”

Myles L: Dangers of t.d.s. (Trump derangement syndrome?) emojis – 3 laugh til I cried.

Patti Anzar Myles L. you will see – big laugh emoji

Marc D: http://mag.time.comICU6h8

Holly La D: Meme – Picture of an all red American map – Caption – “States where Donald Trump is President – Every time someone shares this post, a liberal sheds a tear.”

Meme – Photo of prominent Democrats Caption – America’s Got Treason

Marc D: Meme – Picture Jesus on Cross Caption – Hey Republicans…You know who else was a compassionate Libtard Snowflake who said we should care for the sick, feed the poor, and welcome immigrants. HIM!

Marc D: Meme – Picture split in half, Melania on one side, Trump on the other. On Melania’s side it says “send her back”; on Donald’s side it says “Lock him up”

Marc D: Sandy N to Russia

(we don’t see what Sandy N says for some reason)

Marc D: Sandy N – But that is what people are saying

Marc D: Sandy N – So she should go back to her own country then like Trump told the other [for] women

Marc D: Sandy N – the whole country is saying he said that that’s the way they took it he shouldn’t let it at all that’s why all the black people go Puerto Ricans, Mexicans Jews or even against them up they’re all against them an most white people because of it [hard to follow this one]

Marc D: Most people took it as a racist remark he should have never said it that’s why his holes (?) are going now that’s why a lot of Republicans are turning Democrat look it up it’s all over [her] even he’s losing Texas for the first time in history a Republican’s losing Texas

Marc D: I have and I took it that way 90% of the country that that’s why he’s losing everybody

Marc D: https://thehill.com/454574-trump-approval-rating

Marc D: he’s losing all kind of these states is voters it’s all over the news because of the way he doing things he’s hurting people not helping Graphic “The Trump administration wants to kick 3 million people off of food stamps – 8 of 10 states with the highest percentage of people on food stamps voted for Trump/ shows 7 states from West Virginia down to the Gulf states in bright green.

Marc D: Sandy N – They’re really low during the 20’s right now his approval rating and everything’s really low he’s losing

Stacy O: Emojis 9 snowflakes, 9 frownies

The Armchair Observer: If you keep supporting this man he will destroy American Democracy

Jamie Lee G: The Armchair Observer – let it be done. As one of our founders, Benjamin Franklin said, democracy is mob rule, We are an American REPUBLIC.

The Armchair Observer Jamie Lee G – A REPUBLIC is just a democracy that has a Constitution, so still a democracy. Republicans won’t call it a democracy because they like the fact that calling it a republic says part of the name of the party.

Holly La D: Hey Snowflakes… Meme – Picture of Trump in front of American flag with a guitar – Caption – This is a little love song I wrote. It’s called “Still Your President”

Keith B: Get this crap off my FB page, I’m not a fucking liberal socialist.

The Armchair Observer: Liberals are not socialists unless you watch Fox News

Douglas M H: -The Armchair Observer – They are now, sorry, you can thank Obama and the four morons for that.

Holly La D: The Armchair Observer – Picture – A Cuban blackboard which says Our Revolution is NOT Communism (and several other things that proved to be untrue) – Caption – Cuban Propaganda during the Communist Revolution – Sound familiar??

Armchair Observer: I would rather sound like Castro than Hitler, both hyperboles.

Greg W: We dodged danger you can’t even imagine (1 like)

Gerry V: – Jamie Lee G – Meme Caption “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. George Orwell 1984” “Just remember what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening. Donald Trump, 2018” “Trump asks his supporters to ignore their senses, and instead place blind faith in him”

Holly La D: Gerry Villani – picture of Barbie looking at a Ken’s man parts which are missing – Barbie says wtf? Caption It was then that Barbie realized Ken was a liberal.

Gerry V: Meme – Trump fist in air – “Don’t trust the press. They are the enemy of the people. Instead get your info from the government (me).”

Scott B: Another propaganda site just like the Russians. You go liberal hypocrites

Steven I: TRUMP 2020 (1 like, 1 love, 6 angry)

Betty M: Steven I “Bye”

Douglas M H: “What a wasted click. This article is a complete pile of odorous Democrat feces. Yawn. Trump 2020? In fact, Trump 2024 if no one is looking.

The Armchair Observer: He won’t mind if everyone watches him break the law. He does it all the time.

Photo from Pexels – Thank you.

Conclusions:

  1. It may be impossible to have an intelligent conversation online.
  2. Overcoming systematic long term propaganda is really difficult.
  3. We can’t send everyone to an intervention.
  4. It may not be worth it to pay Facebook money to push out these blog posts.
  5. This is really depressing, except this time I had some liberal help. That was nice.

Michael Tomasky expresses this very well in The Daily Beast:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/deplorable-trump-watches-fox-writes-racist-tweets-to-rile-up-rural-voters

This is why Trump is going to be hard to beat. An entirely separate non-reality has been constructed in places like Kentucky-05, where most TVs are tuned to Fox and people vote every time for the politicians who want to yank away their health care coverage and take their tax money and give it to rich people. And where people literally think a person would have to be absolutely insane to want to live in or even visit a place like Baltimore and are happy to believe every asinine racist thing Trump tweets.

 

Charlotte Perspectives and Figure Ground Experiments

figure-ground-sm

Sometimes it is brought home to me so clearly that we really do live in more than one America right now. It is as if we are all looking at one of those old Psych 101 lessons where we are shown a diagram and asked what we see. Maybe it’s the one where you see either the Grecian urns or the profiles of two people. Some people see the “figure” first, some the “ground”. My psychology class never talked about which view was preferable as an indication of mental health, or intelligence, or personality. The demonstration simply shows that we don’t all see the same thing when we look at something as static as a still picture. Obviously this changes even more when we are looking at complex human interactions in the real world.

But if I take my Facebook page as a little microcosm of America, which it is not, because it is only family and old friends, I can see how most of my peers see and interpret the news of the day. Today the situation we see differently is the shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. These folks that I love with all my heart do not see any other side but the side of the police. They see these black folks as criminals and they honestly believe that the lives of these policemen were in jeopardy. They have no empathy for the dead. They don’t question the actions of the police. Their reverence for our police officers is laudable. Law and order gives us a society that allows people to worry about creating positive outcomes in their personal lives rather than fighting to survive. Here is what I saw on my Facebook page today:

police-officers

 

I look at what happened to Keith Scott in Charlotte and I am filled with grief and I despair that we will ever recover from what I see as our bias and our fear. I know that we have a Second Amendment right to bear guns but I also see how the belief that everyone has a gun changes policing. I worry that there are people who hate black folks and who are also police officers, that they are killing black folks on purpose under cover of their badge. I cannot help but suspect that as soon as one of these bad arrests begins that I will soon hear someone say, loudly and clearly, that the “person of interest” has a gun. The problem is that I do not always believe that the person does have a gun. I think guns are being planted. The only way I will ever know whether this is true or not is if we see unedited video of the entire arrest. How will that ever happen? Maybe a camera in a drone could follow each police car or hover over officers on a beat. I don’t know the answer but we sure need one, because what is happening is awful. It is not one isolated incident. It is happening over and over.

I do not understand how the people I grew up with could watch and hear the video that Mrs. Scott made as her husband, who had done nothing, was being apprehended and then killed and only see this from the point of view of the police officers. I cannot imagine having to stand with a cell phone taping the death of my husband, but that is the thing that Americans of African Descent are being told by their peers to do, to make a video record that can fact check the video accounts that are eventually released by the police. (In the case of North Carolina a law will go into effect on Oct. 1 that will no longer allow the public to see these videos. Why are we spending tax dollars on body cams if the public will never be allowed to see what the camera saw?)

This was just one of the saddest things I have ever seen. This woman had to stay very calm and she had to stay off to the side because if she didn’t she could very well end up dead also. Why don’t my near and dear peeps see this side of things also? Must we blindly admire everything our police officers do in order to deserve their protection? It is a difficult job, but we are not supposed to turn a blind eye to any injustice in a free society. How would we ever be able to recognize and rebuff a police state if all we are allowed to feel is total admiration, to never be critical? We know very well that all policemen and policewomen are not perfect. We know there is always the possibility of corruption and cynicism in people who associate so closely with desperate or bad people. A free society requires that we speak up when things do not seem right.

People who are shown figure-ground experiments and who subsequently are able to see both images are never again fooled by that particular stimulus. If people don’t see both sides of this issue it is, apparently, a sign that we live too much in our own bubbles; that we have come to see black folks as others (and perhaps they see us as others also). These terrible injustices could not happen over and over again if there was not still racism at work in 21st century America. Separation may be responsible. So are our perspectives.

Sad That We Can’t Discuss Politics

Today I went to the post office and I ended up being
there for quite a while because I used the wrong envelope and I had to start
over. I let people go ahead of me but by the time I finished my new envelope
the line had not moved at all. Someone was getting a passport, apparently a
very exacting and time-consuming task. If you ever get behind someone filling
in passport paperwork and having it checked over you might as well leave, do
another errand and then come back. There was one other clerk but she had an
Aussie gentleman with very complicated insurance and packaging issues. So we
stood in line. (At least we had a counter to lean on.) We began to discuss our
pets who are, apparently, all spoiled rotten.
As our wait continued we began to discuss the
conditions that were keeping us waiting. We were nice and did not try to make
anyone feel too badly. The man next to me in line knew that the desk was one
clerk short because the missing clerk was his wife. She had a vacation day. We
were pleasant and civil and just chatting. But it was primary day so I
mentioned my anxiety as I waited to find out the results of the voting. I
mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing Hillary Clinton win the New York
primary. I was hoping people would pipe up and say who they would like to see
win.
I know that politics is not a topic that is supposed
to be discussed in polite company. But I, of course, can’t help myself. I
wanted to know what people were thinking on this primary day. Sadly I believe
it has become more difficult for us to discuss politics than ever. We should at
least be able to talk about what we think we know about the candidates and
where we got our information.
However, as soon as I said Hillary’s name a woman
down the line made a sour face and said Hillary is a liar. Now I don’t think
this woman knows Hillary personally. I could not really ask where the woman was
from, although she had an accent, because as soon as I said Hillary’s name she
made that disapproving prune face. If she came from another country maybe
Hillary did something there that had upset her. After all, Hillary was the Secretary
of State. I tried to probe gently, because I couldn’t accept an insult without
some kind of backup, but the woman just repeated that Hillary is a liar.
Perhaps Hillary Clinton is a liar, after all everyone
says she is, but I just tried to argue that the only way we know about Hillary
is through the media and that it is always important to consider the slant of
the particular media that is supposedly offering evidence against Hillary. When
I have traced many of the “proofs” back to their source I have found the media
to be right wing media. I would bet that the main source of news for this woman
was FOX news. I will never know if that is true though.
The woman made an instant decision to dislike me
because I had an opinion about Hillary Clinton that did not agree with hers. I
would have loved to listen to the reasons why she had concluded that Hillary is
a liar. I would have loved to share my reasons why I do not believe Hillary to
be quite the monster that the media paints her. But the conversation was over
and it was over with rancor on the part of one of us and dismay on the part of the
other. Everyone else in that long post office line (we were there for about
half an hour) said not one peep either during or after the exchange.
I can’t help thinking that it is sad that we can’t
talk about politics at all in our free society, at least with anyone whose
opinions differ from ours. People have chosen their favored media outlet and
are not the least bit curious about what other media outlets have to say. We no
longer take in all sides and try to make sense of all of the evidence. We make
up our mind and any attempt to offer another point of view meets with a stone wall
of anger and defensiveness. I know this has probably been true of every society
from time to time when passions run high and answers are tough to come by, but
it’s a shame and I hope such inflexibility disappears and that we will be able
to try to analyze and decide important cultural matters with some
sophistication and a spirit of mediation at some point in the near future.
By Nancy Brisson

What Does This Off-Year Election Mean?

What did yesterday’s election tell us? Our sample of
outcomes was so small that there is little that we can say that would predict
2014 or even the more distant 2016 election. Yes a Democrat won in New York and
that might show an urban exhaustion with the extremism of the Tea Party, but
that is not all that unusual for a northern urban area, and Lhota is no
Bloomberg. New York City mayoral elections are not, I think, a bellwether for
future national elections. Bloomberg served a long time in NYC and the city was
probably ready to change parties.

Many of us believed that Terry McAuliffe would win
handily in Virginia over Ken Cuccinelli, but the election was actually very
close, too close to draw the conclusion that Virginia will be a reliably purple
state in the future. Ken Cuccinelli’s prissiness about 21st century
sexuality may have been the sword that impaled him. He wasn’t the most lovable
guy even if his puritanical statements and policies are set aside. But as
feelings about the Affordable Care Act are running high, those feelings may
have given him back some of the vote. As for Chris Christie in New Jersey, he
is still riding the waves of his pretty much stellar behavior after Sandy tore
apart the Jersey shore. He is not all that lovable when you get right down to
it and if we are so enamored of sarcastic and outspoken men it is mostly a sad
commentary on how few politicians speak their minds or show individualized
personalities. To me, except for that Sandy support, he is just another extreme
Right Winger, not really moderate enough to help bridge the partisan divide. If
America ends up with what he’s peddling we will soon be an unhappy nation.
What I am seeing is that the fever has not broken.
The groundwork laid by those ever-so-popular radio hosts, Glenn Beck, Rush
Limbaugh, and now Mark Levin runs deep in America and these guys continue to
contribute extreme and hateful nonsense to this steamy pile, this celebration
of white male supremacy day by day on, of all media, in this century, radio.
 The very
first time I happened to tune into Glenn Beck on FOX TV, before he lost his
show, I was shocked to hear someone express these messages that were so wrong,
but so carefully crafted to appeal to white people who were learning that they
would become the new minority in America. This is not even true. Unless all the
minority groups in America merge into one special interest group that votes as
a bloc, and how likely is that, no one minority group will overtake
non black/brown, non-Hispanic/Latino Americans. However, these groups really do
live in America, they are citizens, they have been discriminated against, and
they are gaining in education and influence, a very scary prospect for those
who turn on the radio daily to listen to reminders of how white Christian
Americans could and will lose control of America unless they rise up.
These talking guys have done a great job of riling
up blue collar Americans, and white collar American men are quick to capitalize
on the break they are catching due to these vituperations. These pundits are
guys who have put their “warnings” in writing, whose message is that the
America we all know and love is dying, being subverted, and that the vigilant
must stop the corrosion and “take America back”. There is no doubt that their
tireless energy and their message, however reactionary, has resulted in the Tea
Party phenomenon we are trying to understand today. It is a movement of
nostalgia, a movement that longs to recapture supposedly simpler times, like
the 50’s (and for big business the 1890’s). It is a movement that even wants to
put American women back in their “proper” place.  This actually may be the last hurrah of white
paternalism or the beginning of a Fundamentalist state, depending on which way
America jumps. The 2014 election may give us a better picture of whether we
will be undoing everything we have done over the last 5 decades (undoing
everything that we will eventually have to do over again) or moving forward,
however reluctantly. Every planet goes retrograde sometimes. This election did
not show us what will happen next. The partisan divide holds.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com