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In All Seriousness

An oddly inappropriate windup

Today at noon my massage therapist, sensing my bad mood, asked if I was down or frustrated by my condition (ALS, for those unaware). I’m not sure exactly how she phrased her question, but I do know how I answered: “No, I save my rage for Donald Trump and the GOP.” My caregiver Julie, who knows me well, translated my nearly indecipherable grunting, and my therapist–a reliable, vintage hippy–commiserated. Encouraged, I went on to sputter impotently about how I wished I could join friends in Minneapolis tonight to, let’s just say, express in no uncertain terms my low regard for the president. (I’d be there right now in the cold rain if I could be. Thank you Diane and Beverly and others for your service in this regard.)
I’ve spent considerable time this afternoon thinking about my recent funk. Our country’s perilous situation has contributed for sure, but there are other factors. Some are personal, including a difficult adjustment to my almost complete inability to communicate verbally, problems using my Tobii eye-gaze enabled speech-generating devices, and frustration over my lack of physical activity. Some, I think, are seasonal: we are experiencing a very wet, gloomy spell (it is unprecedented, in fact).

It is disappointing that I am finding it difficult to work on projects important to me, particularly some more serious writing (as opposed to the goofing that makes up the bulk of this blog). People have urged me to let go of our current political mess. They mean well, but as far as I am concerned, this is no time to stand aside and allow evil to have its way.

There is little I can do but vote. A smattering of words cast into the vast ocean of the Internet won’t save our republic. But to be silent is to acquiesce to this monstrous injustice.

Now I’m cobbling together two of the three screeds that I wrote but decided to not post on the world’s de facto public square. At least here, no one is likely to step into it inadvertently.

What remains

Me, if I used a keyboard. An old Internet classic of unknown origin.Nah, after sleeping on it I have decided that I just do not need to do it. I was in a froth when I wrote the scorched-earth political piece and, though I stand by my opinion, I can’t justify my over-the-top expression of it. It is best left unsaid. Much of what I wrote above is now an odd preface for what follows, but I will not waste any more time on this. What is left is this somewhat more measured, not so political but no less impassioned, overlong cri de coeur:

I’ve largely stayed off of this “social” platform because it frequently makes me feel very antisocial (something Mark Twain said comparing dogs and people applies here). For many, it’s the politics that is a problem. I do understand, and I do sympathize. I really do enjoy the thoughtful and interesting posts that so many share. I am sometimes put off by repetitive and banal posts (daily selfies; endless silly “what does your name/favorite color/dog say about you?”; “only three of my friends will post this…”; pictures of food). These are harmless and I am an insufferable horse’s ass for complaining about them. I know that. Further, in many eyes I’m guilty of worse (though I’m certain many or all of these eyes have long since scrolled past this offensive wall of text).

For me it is the credulity of those sharing obviously false and often insulting stuff that REALLY rankles. The more deeply I care about the person sharing such things, the more despair I feel. Can this really be humankind’s fate? We who in the words of Shakespeare (paraphrased) “were made by him with such large discourse, looking before and after, with capability and god-like reason, NOT to fust in us unused.”

I know I am in no way immune from faulty logic, sloppy thinking, and from clinging stubbornly and for too long to my biases in the face of contradictory evidence. I am of average intelligence and limited experience. I have been wrong and will be wrong again. But I try, I really do try, to base assertions I make–especially those made in A PUBLIC FORUM–on the truth, verified as best I am able. I try to label my opinions as such whenever necessary.

So I try to at least not share false information. Fact checking and verifiable information are easily available to ALL OF US like never before. We should feel morally obligated to use these awesome resources. Yes, it can be difficult at times to separate fact from fiction on the Internet. This problem becomes worse every time we ourselves share false information, no matter how trivial the subject may seem. We are being conditioned to believe what is false, and to distrust what is true: by enemies of our country and our Constitution, and by our own “leaders” and self-interested politicians. So we should NOT post, like, or share information we cannot reasonably verify. Is that really too much to expect of ourselves?

Whether or not I am successful at sticking to facts and labeling my opinions, I do know that if I stayed away from politics and other divisive topics I’d be a more pleasant presence here to many. But I seem unable or unwilling to do so. My recent re-emergence here has a lot to do with my concern for an a old schoolmate who is fighting for her life. I am unlikely to stay semi-engaged for long. Many of my most cherished friends here have already pulled back or left Facebook entirely. Due to my relative isolation (though I do get out), I miss them. I can’t blame them though, and I increasingly feel this platform’s poisonous effects on my mental health. To be fair, this is largely due to MY OWN inability to ignore the worst of the experience. I’m happy for the many who can.

If you took offense to some of that, you are probably not alone. At least you wouldn’t be if any of the many who would have been had read it. Know at least this: It was not aimed at you specifically. I am enough of a horse’s ass to insult most of my Facebook friends.

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