Nobody for President

As it gets closer and closer to the day that I leave the place I’ve lived for the last six years, destination uncertain, return date unknown, I’m cleaning out more than my refrigerator.

I posted a short note on Facegag announcing my intent to close that account in August. Oh, the irony, to be “done” with the ‘Bag but not so done that I can’t kill it without a post … and check for comments.

In fact it’s the fourth time, or maybe just the third, that I’ve deleted my account. Each time there’s been a different rationalization for creating a new one. Last time it was “marketing for my law firm.” Of course as with any other marketing effort, it only works if you roll up your sleeves and spend the time and money to make it work.

Facebook marketing requires a lot more than spending money on ads. You have to participate and be a robust reader of other feeds, not to mention carefully developing your own. Most of all, you have to be aware of and gingerly participate in controversies, but never take a stand so firm that it alienates potential clients.

Alienating people is of course the price of taking a real stand on anything.

In my first two Facebook lives I waged epic battles, some of which people still remind me of, for example the great ‘cross battle with the dude in PA or upstate NY or somewhere. I still remember lying in bed in the hotel room in Philly, almost late for my son’s college graduation, battling it out with someone I’d never met and never would over something that I cared about exactly zero.

In my other Facebook lives, and especially this last one, I lost more and more truculence until eventually I never bothered to comment on anything, no matter how outrageous. “So what?” I thought. “It’s just Facebook. It’s not a real opinion or even a real person. It’s just a curated version of some idealized thing.”

The apotheosis of it was a guy named Stephen Jellen. Steve is a “liberal” “intellectual” in southeastern Illinois who I’ve met twice, most recently at a wedding where he was funny, kind, cordial … we sat together during the ceremony. He is a real person with a real personality and real social skills.

For some reason I wrote something on my ‘Bag page that incensed him, though we are both politically well aligned. He showed up and tore me apart. Each time I tried to bring it down a notch or deflect he came back with even greater viciousness, ending his final attack with “Fuck off, boy.” You’d think that with an ending like that he’d unfriend me, but far from it.

I went to his page for the first time and saw that it was a kind of crazy land of screaming, raging opinions, inflated by a loneliness and anger into a kind of digital bounce room where he could fling himself and his intelligence in wild and unrestrained ways, knowing he’d never have to hit the ground hard.

I wanly smiled at this because here was a guy ten years my senior still as absorbed in his ‘Bag persona as I had been ten years ago. This chubby, elderly, pleasant old fart in real life really saw himself as a raging tiger of uncompromising ideas from Middle Class Whiteville, USA, supporting change and revolution by posting up on the ‘Bag.

Moreover, the teardown came from an incredibly friendly guy with whom I’d broken bread only a month or so prior, at a wedding for fuxake. I unfriended him, but felt like I was the one who’d been duped. Not by him, but by FB, which has created a forum where people can behave like monsters and your only recourse is to “unfriend” them. How empty. In real life we’d have had a debate, maybe an argument, and maybe we’d even have told one another to fuck off.

But there would have been the face-to-face element that FACEbook lacks and that allows it to exist. The anonymity of having a name, face, opinion, character, and life that aren’t real is what makes FB so comforting. You can be someone else that no one really knows, and everyone winks because they’re that person, too.

Want to show me the real you on FB? Show me a photo of your medicine cabinet. Everything else I’ll take with a grain of salt the size of … this.

Of course everyone has a reason, thin or not, for staying hooked up with social media, and I don’t judge other than to say that with the upcoming election, it’s more than I can bear. If Google’s #fakeslogan is “Do no harm,” my personal motto, recently adopted, is “Do no harm to me.”

There’s a battle royale shaping up for the election, and it’s already the nastiest one in history, with all forms of media lining up to say the ugliest, most despicable, unmoderated things that they can dredge up. Stephen Jellen’s ugliness looks polite in comparison because at least he’s nothing more than an ugly citizen snowed in 9 months of the year.

Those with whom I’m politically aligned are, in their tactics, just as repulsive as the people they oppose. Daily KOS sends daily spam filled with alarmist, screeching, hateful headlines; swap out a couple of names and they’d be interchangeable with the far right. I understand that these are the tactics that “the other side” first employed with great success, but that doesn’t make me think any better of the people using them. Stephen may vote for the best people, but I think he’s still a colossal jerk.

Fortunately, my opposition to the sexual assault-prone president and my non-support of the probable sexual assaulter he’s running against have happened at a time when the single most powerful political opposition to Trumpism is basically silence. He never grasped The Rule of Holes (when you’re in one, stop digging), and instead thinks he can simply shovel his way down to China and pop out the other side. Maybe he thinks that once he emerges, they’ll crown him king there, too, which would be kind of like assembling all twenty rings of Middle Earth.

Biden’s approach has been to keep his head down, say nothing, go nowhere, respect the covids, speak generally, ignore the president, and hope like hell that the looming mail-in voting fiasco won’t end up in the laps of Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court. Ah, right. ‘Course it won’t. No more than that minor Supreme Court case, Bush v. Gore.

People are so sickened by the twin contagions of the covids and Trumpism that they wish no one was president. There is no credulity left. The Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing murders of people of color lay bare the fact that corporatism and tax policy are never going to be rolled back, whether Muppet A is at the helm or Muppet B.

“Who do you support?”

“Nobody.”

Nobody for President.

END


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12 thoughts on “Nobody for President”

  1. “He never grasped The Rule of Holes (when you’re in one, stop digging), and instead thinks he can simply shovel his way down to China and pop out the other side. Maybe he thinks that once he emerges, they’ll crown him king there, too, which would be kind of like assembling all twenty rings of Middle Earth.”

    That there ^^ is writing gold.

    I’m with you on the election and FB. I never understood FB’s appeal, as I too saw how people I know (in real life) behave in ways I’d never observed in person. I’d like to say that’s unique to FB, but then I make the mistake of looking at YouTube comments and am reminded there are more levels of low to reach.

  2. I’m hollowed out as an American citizen. Depressed doesn’t cover it, fully. I’m an Army veteran that believes in this country and it’s ideals, but I feel so hopeless, at times. Zwift is keeping me sane, for now, but I will return to a stressful job on Wednesday after 3 months away. Can I keep it together? How did life become what it is in America? I feel like a fool for believing in equity for all Americans. Rampant corruption and greed have taken so much away from American citizens, I don’t see the American Utopia ever being realized. I will continue to try to stay positive and hope that we are not a doomed experiment.

    1. Nothing wrong with getting to the bottom of the bucket and finding out you still have hope!

  3. “This ship doesn’t turn as fast as I want it to so I’m not going to turn it at all” – Captain of the Titanic, 2 miles from looming iceberg.

  4. You might want to check out Cambridge Analytica’s “don’t vote, they’re all corrupt” campaign as detailed in “The Greatest Hack”

    1. Nobody for President isn’t a call not to vote, it’s an election strategy. Pushing Biden as somehow good or decent won’t resonate and he knows it. Instead, he’s running on Not Trump, i.e. Nobody for President, or maybe the toaster. People will choose Biden as long as he’s nobody, shuts his mouth, and lets the President keep digging.

      Also, this is the same rallying cry of the Democrats every cycle. “Voting is so important.” Yet the system is inflexible. It exists to aggregate capital. No Democratic administration or Congress has touched the fundamental fact of unequal distribution except superficially, post-war, while making sure that blacks remain subjugated.

      The people whose lives are most affected by election cycles and who stand the most to gain with Democratic electoral victories used to be the middle–always excluding blacks and the poor. Yet the middle has all but disappeared. 20% own 80% of the wealth. So “vote Democrat” is really nothing but an exhortation to the 19% below the 1% that are the the beneficiaries of Republican administrations/congresses.

      The days when we could do the right thing by voting Democratic (and abandoning blacks and the poor) are gone; we can only choose to support the 1% exclusively, or the top 20%, abandoning not only the usual folks, but a huge swath of what used to be called the white middle class. Everyone else goes under the bus. Once you accept that you have to give up your money in order for others to have housing, medical care, and an education, you see how empty the choice is for all but a few. No party is pushing for redistribution of wealth. Or ever will.

      1. Ouch, this response and your original blog post ring with so much painful truth. I didn’t stop by for a bummer, Seth, but it was one well-needed.

  5. Anybody will be better than Trump for President.

    Nobody will be perfect.

    As was famously written …. “I would vote for my toaster before voting for Trump.”

    If Artificial Intelligence was President we would still complain.

    If life was perfect it would not be fun …. we are humans …. enjoy it.

    If you arrived on Earth as an alien and had a choice … would you rather be a human or a rock?

  6. Facebook has done so much to erode both our human decency that I wonder if it can be regained. I’m not a religious man, but I recently have been wondering if our church communities are the places to regain some of that humanity. Unfortunately I’m an atheist.

    1. I think fewer remote human interactions and more face-to-face ones, wherever they occur, are a good thing …

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