Monday, February 12, 2018

Living with outrage addicts in a Post-Fact America….

I usually don’t respond to this sort of thing, but recently there has been a resurgence of Facebook based hoaxes claiming that big bad evil liberal Facebook was BANNING photos of wounded veterans from being posted on people’s profile pages and news feeds.

The post almost always includes this photo of a double amputee US Marine and exhort all true Americans to “repost this!”, or type “AMEN!”: or something…

It’s total nonsense. Facebook has never banned any such photos, as the fact that the photo is at present, all over Facebook clearly proves.  One of my best friends, recently reposted this particular story. I commented with a link to a popular fact checking site that debunked it and wrote that the Photo was definitely one worth reposting but Facebook had never, and is not now banning it. 

The response was interesting. Both he and his wife didn’t engage with me on the subject of the post being a hoax, rather they both enthusiastically responded with how biased and untrustworthy the fact checking site was. Which at first, stuck me as just a bit juvenile, but after thinking about it I started to understand why they were not interested in the reality of the story being false. It was the anger the story generated that was the important thing.

They were more vested in the “outrage” than in the facts.

Like many Americans I have struggled to understand the world in which Donald Trump’s supporters live. It is a place where Fox News is on full volume to drown out anything that could possibly contradict their world view. If by sheer chance reality does manage to find a crack to seep through, the response is essentially to stick their fingers in their ears and yell “ LA! LA! LA! LA! FAKE NEWS! FAKE NEWS!”

Outrage and anger are now America’s drug of choice. And a sizeable portion of the population have become hard core addicts. And like all good pushers and dealers, the GOP, the conservative media-sphere and the President himself know you need to keep your users wanting their fix. The only way the high can be sustained is to up the potency and the dosage.

It’s time we acknowledge that we are not dealing with people with a different point of view. We are dealing with drug addicts. Sadly most addicts won’t accept the idea that being an addict is bad for them until the consequences of their addiction to not just themselves, but to all those around them are too great to ignore.

What has become clear is you cannot engage with people who still support this President and his party on an intellectual level. Just like you won’t get through to an addict simply by telling them that the drug they are using is hurting them. They don’t care about that. It’s the fix… the high of being outraged about (fill in the blank……) that is all that matters.

The Huffington Post has a lead story today about the possible impact and dangers of the “next rescission” and how it will impact on the most vulnerable in America. The key take away is how the President of the United States will just say any and all bad economic news is “Fake”. Fox News and the conservative Media bubble will echo that endlessly, Fox Pundits will say that any economic woes too great to ignore are actually the fault of President Obama’s policies and we need get ANGRY at the Democrats for not letting President Trump “make America great again”.

That anger is critically important to the GOP. It is needed to distract from some rather unpleasant facts.   Like the massive hole in the Federal budget from the Trump tax cuts and how it will be used to justify huge cuts to Social Programs,  like unemployment benefits, which are  specifically  designed to help people during an economic downturn. When a lot of people lose their jobs and state unemployment  funds run out, states have to borrow money and sometimes increase payroll taxes ― something that makes Republican lawmakers enthusiastic about trimming benefits, and claiming they are "cutting taxes on small businesses" .

Addicts can get to a point where they will do almost anything to get their fix. Steal from friends and family. Neglect their children, and see anyone who challenges their behavior as “the enemy” and anyone who helps them maintain their addiction as their friend. Often the only way for an addict to move on into recovery is for them to hit rock bottom first.

I fear we may be heading that way. As for many people the anger and outrage has become more important than facts. To accept even for a moment that you voted for a man whose entire life is in realty the complete opposite of everything you claim to have voted for; is to admit that the drug is bad for you , and you have problem

An admission, that for an addict is the first, and hardest step to take.

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