Tag Archives: covid-19

On Riots and Insurrection: Language Warning

A friend today asked me if I was ok. Not because he was worried, but because he was expecting me to be spitting fire about the insurrection in DC yesterday. And if you ask my husband I was, to the point where I had to put down my cross stitch (my newest hobby, don’cha know) and take some deep breaths. But I’ve been radio silent on social media except to share the daily newsletter of a historian I follow (Heather Cox Richardson, slight Democratic bias, but very informative and insightful).

I have been on Facebook almost constantly, though, doom scrolling away, reading the comments of the “unfollow me now” posts and the “those people don’t represent us” and the general nastiness that happens on social media when one side feels justified and the other feels defensive. My mantra has been (for months now) Don’t Engage With People You Don’t Know. I made that mistake over the summer when I got in a sparring match against someone on a friend’s page who turned out to be his close family. I had crossed a line without realizing it because I was too focused on how clever and right I was. Even when that’s true, it’s no excuse to go after someone I don’t know from Adam.

Anyway, here are my thoughts. MLK said that “a riot is the language of the unheard” and that still holds true. This last summer we saw some rioting and looting (which is shocking considering how angry and pent up everyone was), but we also saw millions of people participating in peaceful protests for months. And nothing fucking changed. We watched people tear apart Target and cops shooting rubber bullets at pregnant women and reporters. We saw children maced. We saw atrocities and rebellion and violence and we bickered about it on social media as though any of it would matter. The cop who shot Jacob Black in the back seven times IN FRONT OF HIS KIDS is not being charged because the DA hasn’t ever had a job where he felt his life was in danger. What. The. Fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING.

What is even the point of being angry anymore? What does it change? I’ve been angry for months? Years? I’ve watched powerful people make billions off a pandemic and then continued to give them my money because I need stuff they sell. I’ve watched conspiracy theories profligate because the media and people who should know better overtly support them since it gets them more views and more power. I’ve seen my friends share hateful memes and spread lies because it made them feel better about “their side.”

And now this. Fucking Trump and his Fucking Base cosplaying Wyatt Fucking Earp (or whatever) strolling into the Capitol so they can selfie how badass they are. They took down an American flag and put up a Trump flag. Remember when Kaepernick knelt for the Anthem and you burned your jersey? Are you burning your MAGA hats and flags and political yard signs yet?

Wanna know the difference between a riot and insurrection? Intent. I don’t know who was rioting this summer or what their intent was besides lashing out. I don’t actually care. I was pissed off (outraged, you might say) at the time because goddammit they were finally getting the world stage and some greedy, pathetic fucks thought, Guess I’ll get a tv, or some shit. Regardless. Those mother fuckers yesterday brought bombs and molotov cocktails and zip tie cuffs so they could take fucking hostages. That’s intent. And just because they didn’t have the balls to do anything more than light vandalism and tourist rebellion doesn’t mean they should be let off. They brought their goddamn Confederate/Nazi propaganda into the Capitol with the explicit purpose of disrupting a sanctioned act of democracy. Fuck. Them.

But I digress. What I meant to say is I’m sorry we didn’t listen. I’m sorry we laughed at your cockamamie conspiracy theories and brushed you off as kooks. I’m sorry we unfollowed/unfriended you so all you had was your fucking echo chamber to scream hate into. But you’re still fucking cosplayers who actually breached the Capitol and did fuck-all to change anything. How embarrassing. How many times have you chuckleheads stormed a government building and then left without doing a goddamn thing? You didn’t even get into a shootout with the feds and the votes were still certified mere hours later. The Bolsheviks murdered the whole royal family and ya’ll had a guy tase himself to death. P a t h e t i c.

Now, to the rest of you. I don’t know anyone who was cheering them on. I’m sure there were plenty, but they aren’t my people. The Line in the Sand People, I am glad you feel angry enough to speak your mind. Continue to do that. Call people on their bs. Use the Socratic Method, though. Trying to argue doesn’t work, which is why we keep unfriending everybody and nothing changes. When somebody spouts lies, fact check them with reputable sources. When somebody makes a statement that you disagree with, ask questions. What do you mean by that? Ok, what do you mean by that? Basically, question them into unraveling their own argument. Keep it simple, as paragraphs of counter-argument means they can focus on or misinterpret one small thing and do their own paragraph response that doesn’t actually argue against you. Anyone who tried explaining white privilege to white people this summer has experienced this and it never convinces anyone of a goddamn thing.

The unfollow/unfriend ultimatums, I get it but there’s literally no risk/reward there. I don’t notice when people unfriend/unfollow me. I have lots of friends and I really only consistently see posts from a few dozen? So if I lost friends because I support BLM and social justice and trans lives and comprehensive social programs, I might never know. I’ve seen several fights break out in the comment sections of those Unfriend Me posts, but most people will see that ultimatum and not even hesitate to Bye Felicia. Why fight when you can just disappear? No confrontation necessary and they can rest safe in the belief that they are right and that their former friend was just being unreasonable (it’s such a shame, I thought I knew them so well). I’m not saying don’t draw a line in the sand. Just be aware that the consequences aren’t nearly so dire that people will change their beliefs/politics/whatever just to continue seeing your humorous memes and cute cat photos.

To the They Don’t Represent Me crowd. You’re feeling defensive. I remember that feeling when cities were on fire this summer. If you feel the phrase “I don’t condone them but” forming in your mind, Walk Away. What you are about to post is some pathetic attempt to excuse any guilt by association you have while also placing the Real Blame on someone else. I get the impulse, but it doesn’t work. When violence broke out we said most protests are peaceful (which was true) and opponents still used the actions of a few to dismiss the will of millions. When we tried whataboutisms (what about the armed lockdown protests that blocked hospitals during a pandemic?), opponents rightly yelled False Equivalency. Those just circle the blame ad nauseum. When we tried reason and statistics, they called us liars and fakes and selfish millenials. Now I’m hearing the exact same weak shit and I’m begging you to stop.

I. Don’t. Care. The “Not All ###” defenses are tired. Not All Men. Not All Cops. Not All White People. Not All Republicans/Conservatives/Trumpies. Just stop. That’s not a fucking defense, it’s whining. Instead of complaining about how unfair it is to be lumped in with these people who look and sound and act like you but certainly aren’t, take Responsibility. That means demanding accountability for those who claim your tribe but misrepresent it. So cops calling out bad cops, men calling out toxic masculinity, white people calling out white privilege, and All of Us calling out “our side” when they’re spreading bs. Someone says they heard Antifa was actually behind the insurrection, Google it. If Associated Press didn’t say it, don’t believe it. And then go back to that person and correct them. Police your own damn people. Why bother rocking the boat? Just cuz you don’t say anything doesn’t mean you agree with it, right? Doesn’t mean you disagree either, Karen, but staying silent means you don’t get to decide which it is. Correcting your own people is more effective because of a major factor in our cognitive reasoning. It’s called implicit bias. You get spot-checked by the enemy and they’re lying/drinking the kool-aid/just being contrary. You get spot-checked by your own people and you’re more likely to believe them because they don’t have an agenda against you. That is how we Fix This Reality Split. The alternative is what we’ve been doing. Yelling at each other until we quit because there’s no use. Unfriend, unfollow, block, and create alternate realities that are so fundamentally different that we can’t even talk any more unless we know everyone in the room is in the same reality. STOP IT. IT DOESN’T FUCKING WORK. (This is not to say remain friends/family with people who are toxic/bad for your mental health and well-being. Those people can fuck right off.)

This (hopefully) final section is for the Enablers in the Government. You. Mother. Fuckers. You played with people to get more power and in the process, hundreds of THOUSANDS of people died. You encouraged conspiracy theories for your own ends, incited violence, and fucked with our democracy to line your pockets. You used a pandemic to rake in millions in money while letting your constituents starve because of some bullshit individualistic philosophy that you don’t even fucking practice. All of you fuckers DESERVED the violence today. And I do mean ALL. There are consequences for your words and actions or lack thereof and today was the first time any of you experienced that. Millions of people marched this summer and nothing changed because of lobbyists and private donors and unwieldy messaging/verbage. 350,000 people died while you all bickered from the safety of your universal healthcare and guaranteed paychecks. Your people have been screaming for months and instead of doing your jobs, you fanned the flames to get more votes. Fuck. You. You talk about change and do nothing. You talk about values and have none. You talk talk TALK about how the other side is fucking us over. 350,000 people dead because one side was flippant about a plague and the other side couldn’t stop being smug about how dumb that was. Real fucking mature. People were scared about losing their lives (either from the viris or the economy) and instead of compassion, you m o c k e d them. Instead of solutions, you pointed fingers. I’d ask how you sleep at night but I imagine it’s on silk sheets in your mansion. Again, and I mean this with my whole heart FUCK YOU. Be grateful it was just the cosplayers who broke into the Capitol today and not actual revolutionaries.

AND ANOTHER THING. To all you irresponsible news outlets, FUCK YOU SIDEWAYS. Reporting rumors and theories as if they’re facts, amplifying conspiracy theories by talking about them constantly, giving Trump a platform 24/7 either by being his mouthpiece or repeating his bs for shock value, letting op eds replace journalism, and pandering to the fringe, all of that has to stop. I can’t stomach it any more. Take the news out of your fucking names. You aren’t reporters, you aren’t journalists, you aren’t news. I get more accurate news from Trevor Noah and he hosts an actual Fake News Program. And hey, I know you go with what sells because you have zero integrity, and what sells is Scandal, Sex, Conspiracy, etc. You are merely a reflection of what the consumer wants. But you know what? My toddler wants to eat cheese ALL DAY. Do I let him? Fuck yeah, have you ever met a toddler? Do I also make sure he eats other things like bananas and raisins and drinks water so he’s still healthy? Fuck yeah. Cuz I’m a responsible fucking adult and I don’t wanna be on a Mom Page asking about the symptoms of rickets. I like cheese and I like that he likes cheese, but I know giving him ONLY what he wants has bad consequences. Is this analogy working for you or do I need more make up and hairspray and a non-regional dialect to get it across? Do. Your. Job. Or. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Guys. Guys. I am so tired. I have a toddler who doesn’t sleep and is potty training. I am 35 years old and I have to chase him around a playground in 34°F weather and then make him eat something besides cheese. I have been in a low simmer rage all year and I have lost all my creative drive and I have to be my husband and son’s only friend because we just moved to a new state in a pandemic and we can’t make friends because of fucking covid. Please. Just burn this country down already. I can’t take the suspense.

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I don’t have to explain what memes are, right?

A photo or series of photos or GIFs with text, usually simple text that makes you laugh? You see, you read, you chuckle, you share. And then you fight for a few hours with someone who insists on misinterpreting what the meme meant. Isn’t that so utterly jarring, though? Okay, yes, sometimes you know that you’re going to piss off someone and that’s kind of fun. Aw, this will get Jerry going, I love it when he breaks out the tin hat over stupid memes. All in the name of harmless fun, haha, it was just a joke, RELAX JERRY, JESUS. Have you ever blocked someone because of a meme? Not something that person said or did, but because they shared a graphic that made you completely doubt how you could ever have been friends with that person? I have, more so in the last 4 years than at any other time in my life. Worse yet, they have caused serious mental/emotional distress for some of my friends.

For instance…no nevermind. This isn’t about my friends’ experiences or about pointing the finger and saying HOW CAN YOU BE SO DAMN CALLOUS/GULLIBLE/JUVENILE while I click share on the same kind of bs.

I recently shared a meme and the first response was from a friend, one whom I consider intelligent and kind and a bit of a badass. It was not rude or anything, but she completely missed the point of the meme. Now normally, I go into literary interpretation mode when someone has issue with something I share. I try to explain what was meant and how it isn’t whatever you think it was because I cannot fathom how you got a completely different message from such a short bit of media. That is the nature and danger of memes. They are brief and therefore must appeal quickly and viscerally with the viewer in order to garner the emotional response desired. They are inside jokes where the inside is millions of people who “get it” without explanation

They will often be polarizing. Why? Think about the ones that you like the most. They make you laugh and go SO TRUE and share without thinking. They always confirm your bias. They stress hyperbole, false equivalency, and all those other standards of bad arguments. They are not meant to be honest or factual. They are meant to be shared. Now think about the ones you hate. They seem callous or thoughtless or hugely inaccurate. How could someone you know and actually like think anything like that? How could they share it and laugh? How could anyone believe this?!? What a snowflake/libtard/derogatory phrase of the moment! Well, turns out you just aren’t in on the joke.

Okay, yes, sometimes they stress the ridiculous

Now normally if you find yourself in the uncomfortable position of needing an inside joke explained, it’s along the lines of “oh this happened and then he said this and oh my gawd you remember those shorts he used to wear what a loser, anyway, you had to be there.” In the case of memes, you have to have the right bias to not only get the joke but find it funny. If you don’t watch the right news or follow the right tweets or tik the right tok (I’m using that phrase correctly, right?), you won’t see what’s so funny. In fact, most of the time you will be furious, offended, and on fire to correct that highly inaccurate discourse. You will feel attacked and you will respond in kind, usually with false equivalencies and hyperbole of your own to demonstrate just how stupid that meme is.

The struggle is real

There is a lot of information out there. Lots of news, lots of opinion pieces, lots of memes, lots of conspiracy theories. All of it is packaged to confirm a bias. All of it is framed in such a way that you will respond in two ways: laugh and share or get pissed and share. Notice the similarity.

I am losing my patience with this kind of packaging. Trump didn’t tell people to injest bleach. He has said all kinds of awful, untruthful, dangerous things, but no on bleach injections. I saw what he said. It was painful to watch but I was more upset by him spit-balling on television like a freaking amateur. Don’t think out loud on national television when people are relying on you for information, even if you’re being “sarcastic.” The coverage of it pissed me off even more, but I digress.

Take, for instance, the protests going on all over the country. Memes have packaged them so easily for me to dismiss legitimate concerns of millions of Americans. People are really complaining about being stuck home when x, y, and z was so much worse? How selfish! Complaining because they want a haircut/lawn seed/beach time when tens of thousands are dead after only 2 months of this plague? I can’t imagine being so privileged that my roots are more important than the health and safety of another person. Deplorable!

And I don’t believe that bs. I know some people are selfish and thoughtless. I know some people watch too much YouTube. But they can’t all be Karens jonesing for a mani/pedi. And just look at all the GOOD that has come out of the woodwork. Churches and schools and charities and just millions of people going above and beyond to help their neighbors. Have you watched Some Good News with John Krazinski? You will bawl.

We are ALL OF US scared right now. We are looking at the rising unemployment and the rising infection rates and doing a lot of math. It’s the worst kind of math. How many more people will die from the economy crashing? Who do we risk to prevent the crash? Unemployment benefits don’t last forever, if you can get them. Always, always it is the poorest, the most vulnerable of us that suffer when crisis hits. Look at how hard the black community has been hit by the virus, on top of everything else. If they aren’t killed by plague, they are killed by vigilantes for looking scary while people with actual automatic weapons parade about with impunity even when actively threatening other citizens.

And all I want to know is WHY? Not why do people consistently prove themselves to be trash while simultaneously showing how amazing the human race can be. WHY IS IT A CHOICE BETWEEN DYING FROM STARVATION AND DYING FROM PLAGUE? Yes, that is an over-simplification of a highly complex issue. Kind of like a meme, amiright?

That, my dudes, is the fight and it’s a total fabrication. The one side says keeping us closed is useless because Covid-19 isn’t that bad/the numbers are overblown/deep state conspiracy/economy crash will be worse you monster. The other side says opening is stupid because Covid-19 is that bad/the numbers are underblown/deep state conspiracy/you can’t sacrifice lives for the economy you monster.

Congrats, you’re probably all right! That’s not the actual issue here. The issue is people monetizing a disaster. The issue is people politicizing the potential deaths of millions of Americans. The issue is that people die either way but it isn’t someone you know so

Anyway, memes. I swear this was just going to be about how fascinating I find memes. Here’s the message I want you to take home. Take TEN EFFING SECONDS TO THINK BEFORE YOU SHARE. And then, take ten seconds before you start a fight/leave a comment. Your dissertations on the inaccuracy of whatever will do absolutely nothing to change anyone’s mind. You will argue at cross-purposes until one of you quits. If your first thought is “Well actually” just scroll on by, hon.

My friend who misinterpreted that meme, I didn’t get into a fight with her. She basically called me on the biased nature of the post and I acknowledged it. Like a freaking adult. And believe it or not, she didn’t misinterpret it. Her bias just raised a flag that I would have picked up on if it hadn’t suited my personal feelings so much. People will be glib with things you find frightening, horrifying, and deadly serious. People will make broad brush statements that will feel like personal attacks. Don’t name call. Don’t mansplain. Don’t diatribe. If you have to say something, maybe don’t until you’ve thought about it for a while. Even better, ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. I’m sorry, I don’t understand the reference? That will start a conversation hopefully, as long as you are genuine in your curiosity.

Exceptions: Total falsehoods, dangerous medical advice, racist/sexist/phobic rhetoric

Total Falsehoods: leave a link to a fact checking site, but make sure it’s a legit source. If you can’t cite a legit source, move on by.

Dangerous Medical Advice: leave a link to a credible medical source. And hey, if you share some video or story of someone hacking a miracle cure or something just for the “look at how dumb this person is,” make damn sure you add context. Facepalm emoji will keep people from thinking you really believe silver nail polish is the perfect sealant on a cloth mask against those pesky germs.

Racist/Sexist/Phobic Rhetoric: the only way we can correct cultural bias is to call people on it. If that’s too confrontational for you or you’re not sure why something is making you uncomfortable, report it.

Finally, for the love of all that is good and holy on this doomed planet, don’t read the comments.

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