You know how some people claim to be addicted to the internet? (I’m sure some people are actually, according to the DSM addicted, they’re not who I’m talking about). I think, in most cases, people just don’t know what their reasonable limits are.
I come from a long line of addictive personalities, so, I pay attention: try to know where my limits are. And I found my limit for social media, well, Facebook at least…
…I get off of Facebook when I hate myself, the world, and everyone in it. I find that works fairly well as a useful limiter.
(as an aside, let me say that I generally think social media is a good thing. I’m not one of those, “I’m getting off of x because y, but what I’m really doing is posting this pronouncement on social media to get some kind of attention,” types. I rather like the connective possibilities of social media. It’s allowed me to reconnect and stay connected with people I thought lost to the ravages of time and memory – for all intents and purposes. So, I’m not quitting any time soon. But that’s not going to stop me from ranting about it occasionally either.)
So, what’s got my bile up this particular, dreary, cold, January morning?
Well, what it usually is: stupidity.
So, I came upon – because someone who is a friend was tagged in the post – another in a long line of shit-stupid memes bagging on the President. (You’ve seen a metric shit-load yourself, I imagine). Typically I get a little annoyed and have done with it. Maybe some perfunctory cussing, for ceremonial purposes, and then done and moving on.
Maybe today was just the proverbial one straw too many.
The meme was trying to make humorous hay out of the the joy it would cause the nation if the President were killed.
(It’s a joke about throwing things out of an airplane to make people happy. You’ve probably seen it. If you haven’t I don’t imagine it’s hard to find. No, I won’t link it here, because, believe it or not, I do have some standards of public decency and discourse.)
Anyway, before I get too off the rails in this screed, let me illuminate the point I’m trying to get at: perspective.
I am not trying to say that this person should, in any way, be punished for or not allowed to speak the way he or she did. I am also not saying that humor should not be used as a method to skewer those in power – if anyone should think they need bringing down a peg or two. What I am saying is:
Think about shit before you toss it into the public arena! Lest you unnecessarily besmear the playing field.
Here’s the thing, my problem with this type of bullshit humor is this:
If that had been a foreign national suggesting that killing our president would be a lark then these same fools would be up in arms, probably calling for air-strikes. Even if they hated the president. It would be a matter a patriotism. Of us versus them.
(BTW: As Americans, can we finally fess up to the fact that “Us vs. Them” is our favorite guilty pleasure?)
What I’m talking about here is perspective and the awareness of our own actions. When did, “I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me,” stop being a perfectly reasonable way to decide not to do something?
Or is it that we have just stopped asking ourselves that question: would I be okay with it if someone did this to me?
Because that’s the heart of the issue here: the same people who post these kinds of memes – who put this stuff out into the atmosphere – would be enraged if someone else, (read as: not them or their in-group), were to publicize the same thing.
Some double standards are useful. This one isn’t. This one degrades us as a people and as a species. It fosters the idea that callousness, that thoughtlessness is no more than fodder for humor.
(Also, it wasn’t funny. Not even a little. No surprise turn in the joke. No outrageous exaggeration. Nothing to show it as anything more than petty hate trying to masquerade as a joke. I am one with George Carlin in believing that you can take the piss out of pretty much anything, as long as it’s done well. And this meme just fucking wasn’t.)
Here’s another piece of the perspective puzzle for you: We actually have instances in our nation’s past where a president was killed while in office. Anyone want to take a cursory look at history and tell me how happy it made the people of this nation?
No, go ahead and look it up. I’ll wait…
…Oh, right, Fucking none of them. That’s how many.
Before I get too far into my own rage-nado of verbiage here, let me get back to something:
This isn’t about the good or bad of the joke.
This isn’t about propriety, what ever that is in this day and age.
This is about tasking stock of one’s thoughts and reactions and assessing whether or not they are appropriate for the public sphere, or –perhaps more importantly – if they are appropriate to one’s own sense of morality, patriotism, what have you.
We all have petty thoughts, small hatreds and grudges. We’re human. I’d say it’s a fault, but it seems to be a feature of hominids.
The point is, take some time to think about what thoughts you give to the world. Take some time to consider what you want to make real.
Because, really, some thoughts are better left unsaid.