Monday, January 28, 2019

When Facebook Becomes Blogging

So I don't know what the future holds for this social media feed of such vital importance to so many people. The fact that I was able to go for two weeks without posting about politics means that I can go longer.
The fact remains that I am really not looking forward to the next two years of politics. There are so many qualified Democratic candidates, and as in 2016 for Republicans, it could mean that all of them cancel each other out and the party is left with some crank like Tulsi Gabbard, who wasn't just a virulent homophobe a mere ten years ago, but actively praises (doesn't just advocate non-interference for) the dictator of Syria and the butcher of our time: Bashar al-Assad. Add to that the fact that it's still possible that Israel's about to embark on its bloodiest war in 45 years with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which would be the unwisest war in its history. There's a not 0% chance that the Syrian Civil War could spread to all sorts of places where I have a dog in the fight with a number of people I know in Baltimore and elsewhere actively rooting for Israel to fall. I frankly worry I wouldn't be able to either post about Israel or talk about Israel without dozens of friendships ending permanently. All that is still avoidable, but I'd rather try to avoid talking about it or thinking about it if I can. And even if the best possible outcome happens and we are all suddenly propelled into a liberal golden age, the daily fights all seem so trivial if you don't have to be a part of their administration. Eventually, the adrenaline runs out, and what becomes interesting about politics is not the day to day fights but how it all fits in with the larger historical narrative. No matter how much the world changes, human nature itself doesn't change. Even if it's always different halves, half the world is always trying to turn the world upside down, and half the world is trying to put the world back to what they think is rightside up. Half the world generally succeeds in their goals and half the world generally fails, and it's always different halves.
Just before I went on that almost two week vacation, I blocked what I suppose is a now former friend, whether he ever was a friend is another question, but had I not known him in college I might have thought I'd hallucinated him. He was a kind of Gollum to my Frodo who posted every manner of invective and vitriol and outright abuse (in the British sense of the term) at virtually everybody who ever posted on this page. I let it happen for years, partially because it was so cathartic to watch someone say all the things I wanted to. Believe it or not, I hold back quite a bit, and it was nice to see someone who had no compunctions about saying the kinds of destructive things we all are occasionally tempted to say but should know better.
It was never particularly clear what he stood for, at different times he seemed moderate, classic liberal, neoconservative, and unreformed FDR liberal, but if what and who he loved was never clear, what and who he hated was abundantly clear in every moment of his interactions. He hated above all leftist progressives, whom he thought ruined education and ruined American power's ability to provide a more liberal world order, and to a much lesser extent, he hated incurious right-wingers. But he viewed those right-wingers as children, a simple impediment that a properly educated liberal populace could always overcome. To a certain extent, I still agree with him, and in a lot of ways I'm more disappointed with the toxic beliefs of most people I know than I've ever been.
But it's not my war. Human nature is human nature, and the more people hold their emotions and their true selves back from others, the more the human id requires a release for their aggression. People with low self-esteem begin to think that the human self doesn't matter, and they give themselves over to mass movements which tell them that even if they are dissatisfied with themselves, they can gain self-worth by signing their life over to greater causes than themselves. It gives them a premade list of heroes and villains, and they get to experience all the love and hate which we all crave, either consciously or subconsciously. I know that I should be more compassionate to people who are simply looking for answers to life's agonies, but it's difficult, truly difficult, to be compassionate when people subscribe to movements that automatically tell them that half the world is unworthy of compassion. I don't know if I can, but I'll certainly try to do better.
The particulars of these movements are always changing, but the urges to embrace these larger than life beliefs never change. It's both the most fascinating and the most tragic thing about human beings. I've got yet another huge project up my sleeve that might be able to explain at least my version of why this is and the very little bit we can do about it. If I'm posting less on facebook, that's what I'm doing. If I'm posting relatively less on facebook, it at least means I'm reading more books. So hopefully you'll see at very most, relatively less of me here.
Good luck to us all 

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