Friday, August 4, 2017

Sick of Social Media Manipulation

I'm not talking about legitimate issues and concerns here ... But is anyone else sick of people using social media to manipulate our emotions with some tiny video or post meant to get us all worked up so that we join in on their political/social agenda without thinking critically about it first?  Aren't we all sick of feeling like pawns yet, letting others manipulate us into feeling what they feel so that we join them in some sort of protest or boycott because of some emotionally-charged video which hardly ever tells the whole story and virtually never gives a balanced, rational view of whatever the person is worked up about? 

Or is it just me?      

(Note to social studies students:  This would be a great research project - studying how easy it is to manipulate masses of people through social media and how little we examine the issues before forming our opinion and running off and joining some protest.)

[And to the lady who refused to answer Border Patrol's question of if she was a U.S. citizen and who posted a video of it so that she could make Border Patrol look like a bunch of bullies who were harassing her with unreasonable questions...
            Thank you for showing us where there are holes in our border.  Thank you for showing us how weak and ineffective our Border Patrol is, how easily they let in someone who acts like they have something to hide by refusing to answer a question as simple, basic, and expected as "Are you a citizen?"  I know, seriously, who would expect BORDER PATROL to ask such a personal, invasive question?!?  I mean, whatever happened to our rights to be let into any country we want with no questions asked and no accountability to that country's government and laws?  (Or is this something we just expect out of America?)  Thank you for showing people from other countries who might want to harm America how easy it is for them to get into our country even when they refuse to comply with our government's attempts to keep us safe.  You've just proven that our government needs a better plan for dealing with noncompliant, resistant people than just "Oh, you don't want to tell us if you are a citizen or not or to explain why you want to come into our country!?!  That's okay, come on in anyway!"  Thank you for helping our government find the weak spots in our border.  Your service is much appreciated!] 

[Oh, and on a different note ... I am amazed at how many people (I have a particular political group in mind here) seem to think that everyone else in the country thinks just like them or should think just like them. 
            I have talked with people who whisper critical judgments to me about those on "the other side" as though we are sharing some sort of a bonding secret hatred for them and their views, never once considering that maybe I am on that side or that maybe I agree with some of their politics.  It never even crosses their mind that I could be one of "them."  They simply think that their view is the only reasonable one out there and that since I am a decent person then I couldn't possible be on "the other side." 
            In their minds, those on the other side would be recognizable by their devil horns and forked tongues or they would be backwoods hillbillies who don't understand what going on around them and who couldn't put together a proper sentence to save their lives.  
            But all normal, decent, intelligent people ... surely they must all be on their side, right?  The only side that a normal, decent, intelligent person would pick?  Surely, a normal, decent, intelligent person would never be on "the other side," would never see things differently or vote differently or have different values or priorities ... would they!?! 
            I am so sick of this "political arrogance and superiority" that so many people display, as though they own this country, as though they are the only ones with the rights to live here, to vote, to form an opinion, to speak up.  Because instead of tolerating other beliefs and values and instead of respecting other people's right to have different views, they lash out at those on "the other side" with seething, foaming-at-the-mouth hatred. 
            They accuse them of being "haters" simply for having different beliefs and values.  They seek to destroy their jobs and reputations.  They boycott them and tear them down in the public eye.  God help any celebrity or "high-on-the-business-ladder" person that tries to express any political view that they disagree with.  
            I think this past election has shown these arrogant, "superior," narcissistic, foaming-at-the-mouth bullies for who they really are!  And it's sad and disgusting and disheartening.  I want my decent, tolerant, polite, warm, welcoming country back!
            I am gonna guess that no matter which political side you are on, you feel it too.  America's broken from within, and it's causing terrible polarization.  It's making us all fear and hate the others, those on "the other side."  How do we fix it?  How do we begin to respect each other again, to value people over politics, to show compassion and humility and grace and love and good-will toward everyone, even those we disagree with?
            I don't know.  But I am going to guess that it starts in our own hearts and in our own backyard, in our willingness to see past the political views of others and to see their hearts, their humanness. 
            And maybe it would help if we based our view of humanity more on those who live in our own neighborhood than on the skewed, hyped-up, abnormal stories that we read on-line. 
            I think the over-abundance of technology and media-influence negatively affects our views of others.  We don't live in the real world anymore.  We live on-line, in bits and pieces and short-hand and snatches of stories and abbreviated texts.  We get to know each other in 140-characters or less.  And we are being brainwashed into fearing and despising each other because of the sheer magnitude of the "worst of the worst" stories that the media shares and because of all the inflammatory speech that the media uses, weaving words such as "hate" and "intolerance" and "victim" and "bully" and "shaming" and other words like it into their stories - into stories which are less about reporting what's really going on and more about sharing the writer's political agenda and about working people up in an emotional frenzy so that they can be manipulated into thinking what the writer wants them to think and about appeasing and supporting the "arrogant, morally-self-righteous, foaming at the mouth" majority. 
            Garbage in, garbage out. 
            And it's causing us to pre-judge what people on "the other side" are like, to see them as monsters who are not as human and as decent as we are. 
            But if we could just look our neighbors in the eye, even those we disagree with ... if we could just remember that the person next door with views we don't like is also the person who helped us shovel our driveway in the winter or who shared with us tomatoes from their garden ... I don't know ... maybe it would soften our negative, condescending, self-righteous views of each other. 
            I don't agree with the political and religious views of the 80-year-old neighbor lady who walks around our neighborhood at least three times a day.  All I know is that she smiles and waves at me every time I see her.  She stops to talk with me whenever she passes my house.  She gives each of my boys a peppermint candy every time she sees them.  And I like her.   
            We are more than our political differences.  And we are more similar to each other than we are different, regardless of our political, religious, and moral views.  I wish we could all start valuing each other more, instead of tearing each other down because of our differences. 
            We are all on "the other side" to someone.  And those on "the other side" are not really all that different from us, if only we could begin to see them as humans, as friends, and not as monsters, as enemies.
            But like I said, that starts with us, in our own hearts, with a willingness to see the goodness and humanity in our neighbors, regardless of our views.]

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