What is it about yelling that makes people think they’re being heard? Living in the internet age, being vocal has taken on a whole new, ironically voiceless meaning. Speech, no longer spoken by one human being to another but typed through a mechanized medium from one faceless, purposeless cretin to an army of others, has become a useful tool to beat intelligent discourse to a bloody, bloody pulp. Somehow we all wandered into Fight Club and thought we were fever dream Brad Pitt. Spoiler alert: we’re all just Ed Norton, drenched in sweat and self-loathing, destroying not only ourselves but our whole damn world. You know we’re fucked when even David Suzuki calls it quits.
And let’s take a moment to say that the idiocy is, sadly, not limited to the vitriolic, nasty side of the internet bleating hate speech from behind a veil fashioned from the skinned body politic. There’s a a whole lot of frenzied sensitivity coming the other way: just look at the Ghomeshi case. Yes, the way Canadian law treats sexual abuse is wrong, but calling the judge a fat white misogynist is not only unhelpful; it’s dangerously distracting from discussing the real problems in our country. It’s understandable when existing alongside endless bigotry boils over into frustration, but letting that frustration loose into the vapid void of the interwebs hands the haters a bigger wrench to throw into the collected works of social justice and human decency. However satisfying Hammurabi’s law is in Tarantino films, it just perpetuates pain in the real world we share.
There’s an old adage that in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. You want the proof? He stands a little over six feet, has tiny hands, way too much money, and (probably) the Republican nomination.
If you ask me (which I know you won’t, since something so polite as a query has been shouted down long ago) the rise of far-right thinking and mass mobilizations (which, yes, do feel eerily similar to the fascist rise of the 1920s) has been largely facilitated by a failure to limit the negative impacts of the digital age. People have been able to unite, not in peace and love like the admittedly drug-addled, post-war 1960s but in hate, fear, and resentment aided by anonymous content and a seething disdain for education, knowledge or basic empathy. We, the people, have made ourselves into a joke: democracy isn’t in the hands of the people, it’s in the hands of snickering, stunted fools who think cruelty is empowering and snarky asides are more on trend than taking responsibility for the lives of themselves, their friends, and their families. There’s an old adage that in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. You want the proof? He stands a little over six feet, has tiny hands, way too much money, and (probably) the Republican nomination.
That’s not to say there isn’t hope; after all, the internet age brought us Trudeau 2.0 here in Canada. This motivational insanity which makes people righteous in their online applause can be just as strong in positive, supportive fashions. Of course, it’s easier to fuel hope than give in to angry fear when things are going well and there’s a lack of visible threats. America can’t be expected to be reasonable when fearmongering occurs on a daily loop, fed not just by entertainment and social media but also by the sources people are meant to trust. Buffoons who have the audacity to claim the title “journalist” while spouting rubbish at an alarming rate. Hello, Fox. Never nice to see you.
Somehow we’ve failed to point out just how stupid and pointless internet commentaries insulting, belittling, and threatening other beings are. Somehow we thought no one would take that empty power and allow it to give themselves self-worth of the most twisted kind. Somehow, nobody thought those twisted individuals would then find solidarity in their nastiness. Somehow, we let the bastards win. And if Trump becomes the actual, for realsies, no take-backs commander-in-chief of the largest military force in the history of humanity, we’ll really know there’s no coming back.