This screenshot is from a Facebook post I wrote several days ago. The story behind it is fairly straight forward. I follow a lot of groups with members who have political views significantly different than the ones I hold. I do so for the simple reason to keep myself open to alternate viewpoints. Put another way, I make a conscious effort to keep my mind open while at the same time adherening to principals of logic and healthy skepticism. To quote George Eilot, “It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
In particular to this post, only minutes earlier I’d responded to a post on “The Truth” (i.e. a MAGA) Facebook group. Someone had posted a meme regarding Trump as a flawless savior who unlike Hillary, Biden, and Biden’s son’s laptop, is a solid, law abiding and patriotic American. I very respectfully pointed out the many blatant admissions Trump has recently made (both on video and audio tape) to illegally holding onto and sharing top secrete documents with people lacking security clearance. My emotionally neutral, factual comment was met by several long winded CAPS LOCK RIDDEN insults, none of which in any way, shape, or form, could be said to be a response to my original comment. Needless to say I moved on without comment then, as a reaction to the unsolicited abuse, I wrote and posted this on my own private Facebook feed which only my FB friends have access to.
Important side note: I generally refrain from making any comments on Pro-Trump groups given there’s no point in engaging with “True” believers who, at least in my personal experience, have a 100% consistent record of responding with CAPS LOCK HEAVY, insult ridden responses lacking any bearing on what I’ve actually said (and sometimes, but not always, including explicit or implied threats against me, my family, or liberals in general).
Not long after posting this one of my Facebook friends responded with this comment:
“That’s rich coming from someone who has said I’m either uneducated or intellectually disabled.”
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t recall calling him “uneducated” or “intellectually disabled”. It’s out of character for me and as a general rule I don’t think it’s useful to explicitly insult people, online or off. And yet it is possible my post-Lyme symptoms were flaring up, it had been a long stressful day at work, I’d gone out for a couple drinks after work to decompress, and as part of that I’d engaged in uncharacteristic shit posting. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years: physical pain, anxiety, fatigue, alcohol, and social media, don’t always go well together. That’s not to say this is an excuse. It’s not. So if I had actually said those things it was unacceptable. I wanted to know one way or the other in order to hopefully rectify what was, if true, absolutely inappropriate behavior.
“Did I say that?” I asked, “…post it here? Also, that doesn’t take away from the fact this happens EVERY time.”
Here I was doing two things. First and most importantly, I was asking for validation (I’ve been a victim of gaslighting before so I’m not simply going to assume something is true without some hard evidence, in this case a link or screenshot would have been sufficient). Lastly, it was important to me to point out that he had in no way responded to the content of my original post: his irrelevant responses are such a cornerstone of our fleeting Facebook romance that I’ve often wondered why he even takes the time to “respond” in the first place. Anyhow, his next response was as follows:
“yes you did because you assumed I hadn’t read the 1619 project… This was a while ago in our enduring hot and cold friendship……. The two main points I’d like to make are having talked to you and reading your posts which I do even if I don’t often comment .
Two things stand out to me
1) your as ideologically indoctrinated as anyone and your conviction that your on the right side of things doesn’t change that fact … As I’ve said what you don’t post about is as telling as what you do post. That’s why when you tell me “I don’t have a team ” I kinda cringe inside come at me all you want just don’t feed that BS
2) in line with number one it’s hard to believe that morality ,justice,and equality by themselves are what motivates you…. I believe you pass those concepts thru the leftist filter and then share your vision. It seems like you truly believe half the country is evil and the rest can only be saved by an ever growing government”
Before I respond I want to point something out: This is one of the longer, more intentional responses he’s made to me, and for that I’m immensely thankful. My response is as follows:
My memory of the comments I’d made about the book The 1619 Project are still quite clear in my mind. Some time ago you had made a number of anti-BLM comments. In hopes of opening your mind to the possibility that BLM supporters (especially African Americans) might have some valid grievances, I’d suggested you read the book. You did not respond. Weeks or months later I asked if you had read the book. You still did not answer. When Hulu came out with a multi-part documentary of the same name I shared a link to the YouTube trailer on my Facebook page. Silence. Given my predilection towards living a data driven life I made no assumptions regarding whether or not you’d read the book or watched the documentary, however, since your views on BLM, which you do articulate from time to time, continued to be negative I assumed that if by chance you had read the book your views on the subject were impervious to the experiences of those in the African American community regardless of how well documented or articulated.
In regard to your first point, I understand and hear that you believe I’ve been indoctrinated. And yet, since we started talking, you’ve never been able to adequately articulate just how I’ve been indoctrinated. Who indoctrinated me? Was it the Lutheran Church I attended daily in my formative years? The one I was confirmed in? Or maybe the Unitarian Universalist church I joined as an adult and was a card carrying member of? Is it the Democratic Party that indoctrinated me? That seems peculiar as I’ve twice voted for independents during presidential races and have, at least on a state and local level, voted for Republicans, Green Party members, Libertarians, and at least one registered socialist party member. Maybe I was brainwashed by the university system except that doesn’t explain why I’ve never chosen my friends or partners based on their occupation, income, or educational level. Perhaps my brain is muddled by those darned Europeans and Australians on my many visits abroad, having seen how they do some things better and some things worse than us Yankees. You’ve thrown out an extremely poignant accusation and yet haven’t done me the simple courtesy of explaining who’s indoctrinated me, why, how, or even in what way. The only conclusion I can draw from these regular accusations is that I’m indoctrinated simply because I do not agree with you. Forgive me if I find that a rather weak argument.
That I believe I’m “on the right side of things” is substantively incorrect. I have never claimed to be on the “right side” of anything. Indeed, I’ve regularly made conscious attempts to communicate my deep aversion to single-minded view points and have, on several occasions, articulated my hard core passion for living a data driven life. By “data driven” I mean I’m able and willing to change my outlook based on new evidence that stands up to scrutiny or, as some might call it, the scientific method. This is why I regularly ask you questions such as, “What did you mean by that?” or “What’s your source?” or more often than not pointing out that you hadn’t in any way, shape, or form, responded to my original post then making the not unfair request that you, “Please respond to what I’ve actually said.” Despite demonstrating a fairly consistent track record of being open to your point of view, the best I get in return is either silence, responses completely irrelevant to my original postings, or being pigeon holed as a tree hugging liberal. Remind me: Who’s been indoctrinated?
I am truly disturbed by the statement, “…what you don’t post about is as telling as what you do post.” Alone, this made me question whether or not to respond. You’ve openly admitted you’re willing to read between the lines, project your own world view on me based on little more than what I don’t choose to post. Well, I don’t post pictures of baby turtles. Does that mean I hate baby turtles? What if I do post pictures of baby turtles? Does that mean I believe it’s turtles all the way down? To the best of my knowledge you’ve never posted anything about the LGBTQ+ community; by your logic that must mean I have every right to assume you’re a homophobe. Sorry, I don’t agree with that kind of thinking.
Case in point: you continue to believe I’m on some ultra leftist team. Obviously (at least in my mind) I’ll never change your mind on that subject if you’re unwilling to even recognize unambiguous counter-examples. For example, before you (again) made this accusation I’d been posting about Hunter Biden’s recent legal troubles. I’ve even gone as far as to articulate my strong belief he should be held criminally accountable for his transgressions (regardless of his relationship to the President). How much more clearly can I demonstrate I’m not on Team Democrat? Do I need to buy a MAGA hat, head to the nearest Evangelical church, and join your team? Sorry, that doesn’t compute.
In response to your second point, I hear that you believe I filter my world view through a leftist filter, however, it says a lot that you’d explicitly state I believe in “evil” (I don’t) and (even if I did) that I believe half our country is (evil). That is so hilariously far from my world view as to only reinforce my belief that you aren’t interested in really taking a step back and listening to what I’m actually and quite literally posting on Facebook. For example, I have never argued for or against “big government” (a term I find vague if not arguably useless); that is yet another projection I cannot take responsibility for. I have, however, admittedly pointed out the hypocrisy in the modern conservative dictate against “big government” given that the largest growths in government (at least in my lifetime) were during the Reagan, Bush Jr., and Trump eras (that’s not to say Democratic presidents haven’t also engaged in bloat, but not nearly to the same extent, something that is well documented). So as near as I can tell it doesn’t matter what I say, my friend. You believe leftists are for big government, you believe I’m a leftist, therefore I must believe in big government. You’re very good at pointing fingers my way but not so good at actually defining or substantiating what you’re pointing at.
To conclude, I do sincerely thank you for taking the time to respond in more depth this go around. While I wish it had been a more nuanced and “data driven” response, you were kind enough to make a “best effort” attempt at answering my question. That said, my original post was in regard to how MAGA supporters always “respond” to me with a combination of 1) CAPS LOCK LADEN VITRIOL and 2) tribally based insults, two points you couldn’t have realistically contradicted unless you’ve illegally hacked into and are actively monitoring my Facebook account. Perhaps next time you’ll take the time to respond to what I’ve actually written and not what you think you’ve heard.
Thank you and take care,