On my facebook page, I watch people being angry all the time. Mostly, they are angry about politics or social questions. Often, they blame people with more money for the world’s problems.
I tend to scroll through and only argue selected points with people that I know are psychologically strong enough to understand that disagreeing with a point does not automatically make the other person a monster.
But though I try to ignore the negativity, I often think about it… and I’ve come to a few conclusions which apply to almost everyone who posts about politics on social media, regardless of whether they lean left, right, up or down (or whatever).
The first is that the meme above is utterly correct. Everyone with a grievance turns it into a moral issue which is therefore not possible to argue with. Like Puritans and prohibitionists, there are greater things at stake to them than mere logic dictates.
So you can’t go argue a point or present alternative evidence, because once you deviate from the party line, you enter the “immoral zone” where you are a bad person and therefore not worth arguing with. A corollary of this is that terms like “Racist”, “Communist”, “Fascist” and “Nazi” have come to mean “a perfectly reasonable and unobjectionable human being who happens to disagree with my fanatical and radicalized view of the world”.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you’ve ever thought that someone you were arguing with is really one of the above (unless they are card-carrying members of either the Nazi or Communist party), you are a bit of an idiot and probably shouldn’t be exposing that reality to everyone on the internet that way.
Maybe you can come back online once you learn to see shades of grey and other points of view as something other than an attack on your moral high ground (which, BTW, exists only in your mind).
The other thing everyone has in common is that the grievances are always someone else’s fault.
Now, this isn’t something new, of course. People who are unable to thrive in any environment have always had to face a difficult choice: accept themselves as losers in the game of life through no fault but their own or look for scapegoats.
I’m not a psychologist, but I’m pretty sure any member of that learned profession will tell you that one path is easier to travel than the other.
So people have always looked for scapegoats. Traditionally, these were the immigrants, or the people who profess a minority religion, or the people who look different. Racism–real racism, at least–has its roots in precisely that sort of thinking.
It still exists, of course. People still frame some immigrant groups as inherently criminal or morally inferior and act accordingly, but to this the Angry Internet People (TM) have added a bunch of other groups. In fact, there appear to be so many groups wittingly or unwittingly conspiring against peace on the planet that the “aliens among us” and Priory of Zion folks are beginning to look sane. Let’s do a recap… White people. Men. The police. The academic left. The fascist right. Billionaires (they are, apparently, all James Bond villains. Who knew?).
We could go on all day, but the point is that it’s never the individual who is responsible for having a crappy life. It’s always the powerful forces arrayed against him.
The problem with this is the person who was born exactly like the whiner, but who made different choices (or had more talent or worked harder) and who has carved out a good life.
Solution? That person is a traitor to the (insert whatever you like here: movement, race, gender, party, neighborhood, religion).
To me, those people aren’t traitors. They just spent their time working towards their dreams instead of whining online. They accepted that the world is a tough place to get ahead in and moved forward. Very few people of any subsegment of the population succeed… and that is the simple truth. And the answer to why YOU didn’t lies inside. I can guarantee that the Priory of Zion had nothing to do with it, no matter what the voices in your head might think.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer who writes books in which his politics are completely absent, but where his characters are sometimes opinionated. The ones that are too opinionated get eaten by monsters. If you don’t believe it, check out Ice Station Death and see for yourself.