Good Bye to Facebook and All That
I have decided, more or less, to abandon Facebook. I told my virtual friends I'd give it a month of one-way silence, and I intend to do that, but social media are a terrible distraction. I'd rather read my stack of old Braccio di Ferro comic books. It is not just that most FB posts are stupid--they are--or ill-informed--even more so--but the invitation to people to admire their own ill-considered thoughts, to stare into the mirror they have created and admire their own imperfect complexions is a far more serious problem.
I am reminded of what my father said about Little League baseball. In the old days, it was a boy's dream to grow up to be a baseball player, and, when he got recruited and played on a Class D team, he was inspired by the chance to put on a uniform, cleats, and realize he was on his way. It was an incentive to work hard, with dedication, but with Little League, Babe Ruth League, etc. they could have all the trappings by the age of 8 or 10.
This is a country filled with people who think dressing up like a doctor and using terms like pandemic and epicenter make them a real doctor. Universities are staffed mainly by people who spout meaningless technical jargon that no longer even impresses the rubes in their own families. People who have never met a politician, much less held an office, covered a campaign, or studied political history, manage to convince themselves they have insider knowledge of how the process works and, like the Proud Boys leader arrested today in Hawaii, justify their bad manners by claiming to be a "professional journalist." Talk about oxymorons!
Think of what people could be doing if they were not FB-ing. Of course, knowledge can sometimes be power, at least the power of moral resistance to immoral authority. Since this is America, the regime, in order to eliminate even a moral challenge, does not need to crack down on serious studies. All it has to do is make Literature-lite courses in college, and no one will have to read Dante or Shakespeare, and make sure everyone spends several hours a day on Twitter and FB, huffing and puffing, tweeting and snarking. I am reminded of baboons in a zoo, that excrete toxic fecal matter into their paws and fling it at the human world.
Political discussion in these United States are like a perverse misapplication of Gresham's Law: Bad thinking drives out good, but not because (as in the case of money) people hoard the good currency and spend the bad, but because the proliferation of bad intellectual currency renders meaningless the ideas of good and bad. There are still people who buy gold and spend fiat currency, but who in social media can even know what serious thinking is? Obviously, that is one of the reasons we established this little website: to remind those who have ears to hear what the gold standard once was.
I am reminded of the time John Stewart appeared on Crossfire and told Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala just to stop doing what they were doing, engaging in ritual shadow-boxing that enlightened no one but only deepened and widened the political divide. Begala, as a serious political operative, simply laughed along with Stewart, but Carlson grew angry and tried to respond, pointing out the leftist orientation of The Daily Show. Stewart, who easily outgunned both his victims, asked if Tucker had noticed that Stewart's show was broadcast on The Comedy Channel.
Hardcore conservatives had no interest in defending the bow-tied preppie, and he lost his job (though he later claimed he had already resigned.) He wisely, perhaps even sincerely, reinvented himself as a serious rightwing commentator, and his admirers on FB have taken to describing him as a populist, a threat to the regime. Apparently they do not realize his father was adopted by a wealthy man--which is why Tucker's middle name is Swanson--or that his father Richard was head of Voice of America and chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On paper, at least, Tucker Carlson is a spoiled rich boy and lackey of the regime.
I have absolutely nothing against Tucker Carlson, though I never watch his show, and I hope for his sake that he means at least some of what he says, but to confuse him with a "populist" and regard him as man of the people would be like thinking Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy were enemies of their socio-economic class or that Julius Caesar really cared about the common Roman. But, on the alternate reality that is Facebook, that is the myth permitted and supported by the Zuckerburgs, Bezoses, and Gateses, and Dorseys.
It's a bit too much for an aging cynic to swallow. In the words of the American original of Braccio di Ferro: That's all I can stand cause I can't stand no more.