It’s Time

Like many others, for four years I have sat aghast as the Republican party sold their souls to Donald Trump for no other reasons than doing so protected their seats and served their agendas.

As Trump’s lawlessness and reign of terror escalates, they continue to support him, even as he rallies his base of bigots to take arms and storm the streets, and intimidates the institutions that are supposed to guard our health and safety into authorizing the use of questionable treatments, and pressures manufacturers into speeding the release of inadequately tested vaccines to secure his re-election.

At this point, it should be clear to Republicans that no human life has value to him except his own.

But, apparently, their actions indicate they share that credo: theirs are the only lives that matter.

I have been unhappy with FB for a long time. I’ve occasionally deactivated my account, stayed away, and returned—partially to keep up with people whose news would otherwise not reach me, and partially because it served my agenda.

If you are a writer, artist, composer, or performer, you’re aware of how valuable social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, etal., can be in publicizing and sharing your work. While these sites allow excellent work that might be rejected by traditional outlets to reach audiences, they also do not discriminate. The result is that everyone with anything to share is attempting to be heard and seen. So, using social media becomes a necessity to avoid obscurity—a necessary evil.

Since my recent FB deactivation, I have remained active on Twitter. It was there that I saw Ady Barkan’s tweet regarding a doctored video Congressman Steve Scalise released of him on both Twitter and Facebook. Barkan, as you may recall, is a young health activist with ALS. Scalise’s post was quickly flagged, and, ultimately, removed by Twitter. Scalise then deleted the post, too. But, by that point, it was too late. The lie had been widely disseminated and repeated.

And, this, in no small part, is thanks to Facebook, which has refused to remove the video.

I will not link to it. If you wish, you can find it on your own. Barkan’s tweet, and one linking to an article in Politico describing Scalise’s video, and his reaction to the backlash are below.

But, this pattern of letting lies stand is company policy with FB, one that continues because it probably benefits their agenda.

And so, I’m left with the question: if I were to stay on FB, would I be any different than those Republicans who are content to ignore and stay silent about every crime and act of brutality and insanity merely because it benefits them?

If I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, I have to say, “No.” I would be no different. I can no longer rationalize that staying, and sounding the alarms on Facebook will have any impact, as I have been preaching to the choir as long as I’ve been on it. Nor do I have any illusions that my leaving will have any impact. Facebook is too big for that, and too insidious in the ways it convinces people they need it.

I’m leaving purely because it will make me feel better; and at this time, that’s everything.

I can’t say I won’t miss it. My friends’ posts have been a source of joy and enlightenment for me. I wish them well, and pray they stay safe.

Hopefully, they will follow me here.

Peace.

©2020 All Rights Reserved.

Mass Hypnosis

Albert von Keller – Hypnose bei Schrenck-Notzing

There’s a moment in the film, All About Eve, where Margo Channing, an actress in mid-life with a salty tongue and noble spirit says, “I detest cheap sentiment.” Words to live by. Yet, she becomes prey to the cheapest of sentimental ploys by a young, ambitious, and conniving actress, named, Eve.

Margo is the model for my inner critic, Griselda, mentioned in earlier posts—although Griselda’s cynicism would never allow her to be victimized by someone as saccharine as the title character in All About Eve. She would have seen through Eve immediately and sent her packing.

As you might suspect, I detest cheap sentiment, too. Over the years, I’ve learned to recognize that sort of emotional manipulation. Google’s recent Super Bowl ad was a particularly offensive example. Narrated by an actor playing the part of a widower asking Google to remind him of things his departed wife said, the voice-over and images were set to a threnody designed to to wrench viewers’ heartstrings from their chests.

And, judging by the majority of reactions on social media, the technique worked.

But I was infuriated. Because aside from what I saw as a facile and obvious attempt to manipulate people’s emotions, there was an underlying awareness to it that all the sorrow and empathy evoked would make viewers forget forget forget that Google is storing those lovely memories and photographs, along with plenty of other data they’ve amassed via tracking, and that the accumulation of that data, and access to users’ lives and activities comes with risks.

Cheap sentiment is a powerful tool, and those who use it know that.

Last night people’s screens filled with shamelessly sweet and heart-stirring images and false promises designed to make them forget forget forget years of the most sinister and self-serving behavior.

Look here not there, listen to this, not that, and think only about how the images and words make you feel….

It hard to blame people for not seeing the truth. The technique is cheap, but frighteningly hypnotic.

It’s hard to fault them for being distracted, forgetting….

But do you hear that? It’s the sound of fingers snapping. Wake up. Wake up. And remember….

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Metaphors

The first image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87. (Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via National Science Foundation)

A year or so ago I wished for a black hole. It was an impossible wish, of course, and as the months passed, I chided myself for what seemed a whimsical descent into fancy. A black hole? In my lifetime? I would never be that lucky. So, I forgot about it…until the above image appeared all over social media and the news. I knew the sight of that burning ring, with its dark, unfathomable core, should have delighted me; but it didn’t. It freaked me out.

To make matters worse, while visions of black holes mushroomed across my timelines, so, too, did a story about a woman whose eye infection was caused by sweat bees nesting in her eyelid and feeding on her tears.

***

Last week, I was going to respond to other media frenzies, but let the urge pass. Trust me, I had built up a nice head of steam and had plenty to say; but because I knew it would get me more blow back than I wanted, I worked and practiced instead. Better to release that steam on productive endeavors and let my literary and musical works-in-progress benefit from venting.

***

But now there’s that hole, those bees…

And I do not have the steam to make them less portentous in this mad, regressive time. I do not have the words. I’d rather not be freaked out by nature’s timing, nature’s metaphors; I’d rather just be awed.

©2019 All Rights Reserved