About a month ago, I explored the outrageous idea of maybe not getting so outraged in 2014. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t think I could handle another 2013. My blood pressure was so high that I was sporting a non-pleated permarection. All year.
And, for the most part, we were doing OK. But this week … oh lord, this week.
But when I took a closer look at this week’s key dividing moments online, I realized something: nobody’s actually arguing with anybody.
Let’s take a closer look at what made us post in a huff this week …
Monday: A goddamn Coca-Cola ad
Fellow Guy, Bryan McBournie, broke this one down already. But, just to recap: Coca-Cola made a Super Bowl ad (surprise!) that featured patriotism (gasp!) and its worldwide brand in an Olympics year.
That last part is where, according to news sources, people found the strength to be outraged over “terrorists” singing the “national anthem” because they like Coke but “hate our freedoms.”
I didn’t personally see anyone actually complain about people singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages — most likely because I don’t typically participate in social media with bigots who are just bright enough to know when someone isn’t speaking English, but dumb enough to think “America the Beautiful” is the national anthem.
(To be fair, I recently thought the Anne Frank House was in Denmark, but, you know, I don’t claim to be a Proud Dane.)
In fact, other than linking to news sources that gleefully collected and broadcasted the Twitter ramblings of people you last saw painting their sister’s name on the town water tower, I’m pretty sure that everyone who posted on this topic was all in favor of the ad and the idea that some people speak more than one language, even Americans.
Yet, we all posted denunciations of people we have never met, will probably never meet and — for all we know — were made up to fill the sports journalism void post-Super Bowl Sunday. (It’s a real thing. Hunter S. Thompson was notoriously depressed at the end of football seasons, and that may have helped him pull the trigger on himself.)
And, if we argued with anyone, it was probably with immigrants or first generation Americans who feel that assimilation is the way to go but were otherwise pretty level about the commercial. Or with assholes like me that get uncomfortable with American corporations hiring actors to pretend that the world really likes America because of our more popular of two brands of cola. That’s both wildly egotistical and pandering.
We’re not exactly taking a tough stand here by white knighting a sugar water company. Although I’m sure their marketing department appreciates being a trending topic that they didn’t pay for this time.
Wednesday: TV ‘Science Guy’ failing to convert hardcore evangelicals
Bill Nye, the Mister Wizard of the ’90s, continued his relevance tour by engaging with idiots, previously on Fox News and this week to Kentucky where he debated Ken Ham, the guy who founded the Creation Museum. Just to illustrate the kind of mental heavyweight Ham is, his museum is literally his 3D version of The Flintstones where the Great Gazoo is Bible code for the archangel Gabriel.
The results: despite Bill Nye’s efforts to reach out, not one single young Earth creationist could understand the difference between a belief based on faith (religion) and a theory that could change based on evidence (science).
But, again, everyone responded to … ugh … Buzzfeed posts that collected young Earth creationist responses. Again: people that most of us don’t personally know or interact with because they live on compounds to save on homeschooling supplies.
In both cases this week, everybody was up in arms against nobody — people that we don’t know, don’t care to know and, had we known them, probably unfriended or ignored them years ago.
Sure, it’s fun to react and hopefully, in the act, change some minds and prove how insightful we are on topics that even Star Trek doesn’t bother with anymore. We’re reacting simply because it feels appropriate to do so … even though nobody asked or even attacked us in the first place.
We’re basically becoming Ken Ham: preaching angrily at the converted, agreeing angrily with the converted and riffing on some nebulous other for making this country dumber, tyrannical or less free. Maybe we need a new online hobby.