Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Ironically, as those who know me might note, here I am using a hashtag thing in my post title–ME, one of the remaining family/friends/colleagues who does not participate in social media, lol, outside of old-fashioned e-mail and one essay of encouragement on LinkedIn.
I don’t even know where one would start a “hashtag movement,” actually (if that’s the correct term for such modern calls to awareness and/or action on social media).
But of course there are myriad reasons many people (including me) don’t jump on the social media bandwagon, as useful and as helpful as that media is for many purposes*.
That said, when tags, whatever their nature, become triggers to act, I’ll do what I can.
If putting a # on top of my message today might cause a few people to read the text and/or view the videos, below, count me in, and hopefully readers and viewers will find something useful in my contribution to the discussion around the state of political rage (as in: getting worse by the day).
It’s that “light one candle” instead of cursing the darkness motivation using what “voice” I have, however limited, here.
So, specifically, then, why #Resisttherage?
If you have read any of my posts on the degraded and degrading state of political “discourse” these days (here are a bunch) you may have noted I have touched on how fast things have been doing just that–even over the short amount of time I have been covering this topic in my posts.
What started with some old-fashioned arguing and debating with the usual amount of push-back from each side of the subject has fast become “potty mouth politics,” you might put it.
The “cause” has crumbled down to celebrities and common people alike spewing “f— (insert name of hated politician, here) after every other word, or just in a repeated series of “f— you’s” that, apparently, express their entire theses.
Regarding one celebrity who is particularly fond of the F word, and who recently took advantage of several bully pulpits including an award ceremony and during a college graduation “speech” to engage in his fave dirty word, most of us, not too long ago, would have at least held our applause and hooting at bay, understanding that when political discourse devolves to this level, there’s not much left to scrape off the bottom of the barrel.
Most people would have turned off the television or live stream at that point, in disgust. We would have chalked the celeb’s behavior up to immaturity, at best; at worst, to his possible drug flavor of the day fueled by unfettered rage.
However, not so, it would seem, now.
Now, sustained applause for his behavior, and that of other like-minded profanity spewers, erupts amid robust hoots and hollers. Such vulgarity even inspires standing ovations at times.
(Side observation: listening to such talk, and variations thereof, you’d think you were back at summer camp in middle school when the counselors were out of ear-shot and the speaker and his little friends were responding to the youthful urge to say “dirty words” and tell “dirty jokes” for [forbidden] fun, shock value, and “educational” purposes…)
Not only that, the next potty-mouthed (adult) pundit, in his or her own venue, seems to become emboldened and even more fervent with this newfound acceptance of vulgar vitriol–and here is where, in an effort to compete for the lowest common denominator of trash talk against politicians or whole groups of people (and perhaps get the most attention, too, amid flagging careers?)–the fun soon changes to danger as f-bombs turn to other kinds of bombs–real ordnance as well–as we saw in the gunning down of several GOP baseball players last year.
(MID-POST UPDATE: this just in–to illustrate the downward trajectory of the “political conversation” these days, not only are the words “F you” [ “F” for short] acceptable in the national discourse, some, apparently lacking any vocabulary whatsoever with which to hold forth, are taking to simply the use of the middle finger salute. Teaming up, even, for smiling selfies.)
Words (and certain crude actions) DO mean things, particularly when there seems to be no more restraint.
Words inspire, yes, and teach, and persuade. But they also incite hate which, if unchecked, quickly becomes rage (see my thoughts on this in the previous post, as well as here, here, and words with optics to emphasize them, here ) which, also if unchecked, kill, or attempt to. Literally.
Here is an article about last year’s assassination attempt referenced above that may have been inspired by one of the hashtag movements that I won’t advertise here by spelling them out, but movements that encourage “political activism” such as killing colored people (color: White), killing people who protect our communities (and wear blue uniforms), and/or killing any/all politicians who belong to a certain political party (GOP) one has come to hate (which perhaps influenced the shooter in the ball field). And now, some also desire to kill all who even voted for people the hashtaggers hate.
Just in the last week, the darkening state of rage “inspired” another social media user to “tweet” out the most vile, misogynist, sexist, murderous words imaginable against a female government appointee.
Another tweet called for terrorizing the children of the hated political group by protesting and harassing them outside their schools.
Another called for terrorizing the four year-old child of a hated politician’s family member…ironically, over the tweeter’s opinion that the politician is somehow terrorizing–children…
It goes on….
So see what I mean?
About evil begetting only more evil?
And how it starts with words?
So, I wondered at first, like everybody else, how did this happen so fast?
How did the first “words” against one’s political opposition become so rage-filled and rage-inciting, so fast?
I mean, evil has always only gotten worse if not checked by civilized people, right?
How (Enraging) Words Kill in the Era of Fast-Paced (and Slide-by) “News”
One reason–but a huge one–is the fast-paced nature of social media, and people who don’t think about how social media platforms, for all their good uses, can be used–even weaponized–by their inventors and owners to begin the movement to destroy their (the owners’) own adversaries.
In the (real) news, of late, such means of weaponizing social media includes suppressing opposing viewpoints by, for example, de-monitizing the video and other social media accounts of those who do not share the same political opinions of media owners. It happens by “shadow banning” certain postings by users not deemed PC, or “politically acceptable,” and it happens by out-and-out censoring the news by censoring certain topics, organizations and people, and so on.
Not to mention exporting some of what is known as fake news, aka pseudo news, (need I elaborate?).
Not to mention that now that the attention span of the average person is, some argue, less than the attention span of a gold-fish (i.e., less than 9 seconds), users are encouraged, you might say, to interact and respond in as few “characters” as possible so that more people are likely to read or view the shorter message.
Of course, this helps the media giants make a lot of money but it also facilitates whatever social and/or political engineering they might wish to facilitate.
As to how, then, quick sound and video bytes facilitate politics and gin up rage, for my focus in this post–but a very critical focus–this helps innumerable ways, considering how critical thinking takes time, discipline, and effort to tap into reason and properly vetted analyses.
Not to mention how MUCH truncated “news and information” can pass by the brain in a few seconds and, as one learns in Propaganda 101, repetition can, over time, cause one to even believe flat-out lies–even big lies–IF they are repeated often enough.
Also, of course, by incorporating repeated lies into any useful (fake or real) news this gives the lies (false) legitimacy, at least to those who are conditioned to accept such repetition as reality or who don’t know any different. It’s just one way propaganda works.
But mostly, social media works the political plan mainly by keeping minds from the news (again, real or fake) that requires time and vetting so it is far easier to lead the unsuspecting by the nose (or the click bait) down a path they may not want really want to go, if they understood how this psychological operation works…
See how easy it can be to speed up the progression (de-gression) from angst to anger to rage to murder?
Oh, and one more “power”.
In an era when the far-left uses the chaos-inducing technique of setting many fires at once (and it’s sooooooooooo easy to do with slide-by’s) to not only deflect debate but also to wear down the opposition** (I mean, think of how quickly the powers-that-be switch from crisis to crisis) it happens even faster.
ENCOURAGEMENT and Antidotes!
Everybody seems to be getting increasingly frustrated and uneasy as the “enemy,” as one perceives them, seems only to get away with an increasing number of lies, crimes (and misdemeanors) at such an alarming rate, these days, it makes one want to just hole up in a corner with his/her figurative blanky, turn everything off, and go to sleep.
But of course, civilization needs to go on–for as long as possible–by the hard and laborious efforts of speaking truth to power, protesting in (still) legal ways, and pulling together every bit of maturity and patience and good will one possibly can from what’s left of calm and reason–and courage, in some cases (think of the dangers of being a whistle-blower these days)–in order to move forward.
But here is some encouragement regarding how to maintain mental, emotional, and spiritual stability in the midst of this mess:
- To repeat my encouragement in the previous post, first and foremost: DO NOT ENGAGE WITH RAGE. Rage is powerful. It pulls you in. It exhausts you. It can even make you ill, if not dealt with. And people who are–or are becoming–more mired in rage often refuse to listen to opposing or even encouraging or informative views. Think about it: what kind of discussion can proceed when the rager will only initiate–and respond to–anything by spewing a series of “F you’s!”? Or by name-calling, the viler the better? Obviously, no reasonable discussion can ensue. The rage remains, as well as one’s frustration over the lack of honest communication which might lead back to civilization.
- I also covered previously how being caught up, or remaining, in rage truncates critical thinking, and critical thinking is where we can access the ways and means to not only overcome the onslaught of rage but also keep our thought-stopping emotions in check. I often tell students that it is essential to keep oneself from the mind- and emotion-control techniques of both the far right and the far left so that we can remain in the middle, where there is more mental and emotional power to deal with greater clarity and control. If we lose clarity and control, we’ve lost it all, as in our freedoms (think martial law, also covered previously), and control is what all political extremists want. And extremists will use any rage-filled (largely unaware) pawns, potent sound byes, and/or emotion-grabbing optics they can, to get control.***
- Get together with like-minded individuals as often as possible to encourage each other to stay calm, research, think critically, and pray. This political milieu might actually be more than just politics as usual; it may well be an existential threat like none other this nation, indeed the world, has experienced. For it is not just the power of the pen or a good orator a work, here, but the power of instant, global exposure at lightening speed by technology people assume is a-political, that can light not just a few local fires of agitation and violence, but innumerable fires that can explode at once. That’s a lot of rage over a lot of territory. I am reminded, here, as a metaphor, of fire storms, conflagrations either natural or man-made, that reach such intensity they sustain their own wind system, thus, take on a far-more potent destructive power of their own.
- And also as noted in the previous post, remain in the love of the Lord toward all. This does not mean do not legally protest, vote, speak up in whatever venue that is yours (if just to vote and encourage each other). It all counts. And remember Jesus did also say that when it comes to Him, as it often does when good and evil clash, there would also be great resistance, hatred even. Believers can expect no less, even as we proceed, in that love, as best we can.
- As the clash gets closer to the primordial Master of Evil, our real enemy, versus God, we can take hope in prophecy; God’s pattern of deliverance “in the fullness of time.” And we also have spiritual “protections” when the rage hits the fan, as it inevitably–and prophetically–will. Here are a few more ways we can “survive” these treacherous times.
- And keep in mind that, regarding the superiority of truth to surface and justice to reign, no matter how long it takes and how frustrating: if evil, as brilliant as it is, were to be more powerful, this planet would have imploded eons ago.
Take heart. You have a lot more power than you think you have–and look around, you do have a venue, however small it may seem, to influence others, or even just one other. Perhaps you, as opposed to me, are even adept with social media?
Most importantly, however, remain calm and stay well so that you, too, can #Resisttherage and move forward.
*I guess this CNN “60 Minutes” feature I have linked in previous posts regarding the (intended) addictive nature of social media would include the primary reasons I, as prone as anyone else to become addicted to same, stay away. Here’s the link again. It’s good and only about 12 minutes in total:
**In Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, noted above, consider rule # 8:
“8. ‘Keep the pressure on. Never let up.’ Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.”
***Below, is a very important and salient speech given by, IMO, one of last year’s free speech heroes, to the U.S. Congress regarding his experience being forced to resign from his teaching position at Evergreen State College in the state of Washington. He was persecuted because he dared protest anti-free speech activities displayed in an event at the college. He identifies as a classic liberal, but NOT a “far-left liberal (which I believe to be a contradiction in terms)”. His words tell it best. NOTE: I have taught with colleagues who used to teach at Evergreen, and my son-in-law graduated from there some years ago. Before the so-called SJWs “took over,” as it were, with help from the current administration, though I am not left-leaning, I would agree to the fact that “HOW to think” was still taught there, as opposed to the encroaching–and now seemingly rubber-stamped–pedagogy of “WHAT to think” that often leads to stopping debate altogether, and, well, the kind of violence and bigotry illustrated last year. Even if one is strongly opposed to classic liberalism, this is well worth viewing and listening to. And for some background, here is what happened to Professor Weinstein.