It seems that the upcoming presidential election has highlighted two major challenges for me:
1. I have little in common with a significant number of my Facebook friends, the majority of whom are former high school classmates from thirty plus years ago; and,
2. These same friends are embarrassingly uninformed about politics, to the point that I fear it exemplifies the degradation of American intellect.
Here are my observations:
Uninformed FB friends share political banners that contain false information, accusations and predictions of doom based on grossly inaccurate rewritten history. When I point out their errors with detailed citations of fact, they become defensive and sometimes even hostile. Ouch, the truth must really hurt. Surely it’s not their ego or they would have fact-checked in advance to insure they didn’t post something that made them look ignorant.
Uninformed FB friends repeat rhetoric as if it were fact. When I’ve asked for citations for the information they share so I can learn more, they either refuse to respond or tell me it’s just their opinion. Oh. And that’s supposed to influence me?
Uninformed FB friends have their heads so deeply buried in the sand that they will never see the light of day. How do I know? After I reply to their posts with the facts and state the non-biased source(s); for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they refuse to accept the reality, preferring instead to remain ignorant of the subject matter. It would be much better to say, “Why yes, Sheila, I see that Obama has added 233,000 jobs in the auto industry since June 2009 and that represents the most growth in a decade, but I think I’d rather go with that other guy. You know, the one who’s going to lower taxes for the rich and increase taxes for the middle class. The one who’s going to abolish Medicare/Medicaid because every American should be capable of funding their retirement healthcare.”
They don’t say that, of course, because somewhere in the depths of their grey matter, they must realize there is no logic to their thinking. No rationale. Whatsoever.
As I see it, these people are irresponsible, imprudent and grossly negligent. Here’s an example to make my point:
Last week my gay friend, who is voting for Romney, invited input on his choice of candidate. A lively debate followed and his post garnered 71 comments. Repeatedly, however, conservatives were blaming Obama for the collapse of the economy. Yet, they never gave any examples of what he supposedly had done to create the collapse.
When one reader finally asked for clarification about the economic collapse, I took the opportunity to outline how it collapsed under the Bush administration. I gave two key reasons for the collapse (war and banking) and included facts, figures and citations.
My response was met with some acceptance of Bush’s guilt but absolute denial that Obama had done anything but further continue the downward spiral. Yet, par for the course, no examples were provided.
Let me stop here for a moment and confess that I find it infuriating when people make statements as if they are fact, yet give no detail or reference to that which formed their opinion. I also find it unbelievable that people are so deliberately unaware. So, I did what I always do — I called it meaningless rhetoric and demanded proof.
No proof was ever offered because no proof exists. Nevertheless, more rhetoric followed when CME wrote:
“It’s actually my opinion, and that of many other people, as well. I think Bush started us down a hill, and the deficit has increased even more under Obama, we continue to spend, spend, spend without a budget, even when he had control of BOTH houses of congress. He promised to bring home people from Iraq and Afghanistan — but is taking a lot longer to do so – He has not improved things at all. Look at the number of people out of work – record highs –taking money from Medicare to pay for the health care program, these are just observations off the top of my head as I work on a print deadline at the business I built…”
Now bear in mind that by this time I had already mentioned Obama bringing all troops home by 2014 and I had posted a data chart by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that showed private sector growth creation under Obama’s administration. Apparently, CME had no desire to read any positive news. That gave me the chance to further elaborate, so I mentioned specifically that Obama has added back more than 4.5 million private sector jobs and seen 29 straight months of job growth. I also mentioned that, under his administration, benefits to the Small Business Administration (SBA) were expanded, resulting in SBA loans guaranteed at 85% on loans of $150,000 and at 75% of loans larger than that.
In other words, I have been working hard educate readers as to what has actually occurred during the last three plus years of the Obama administration. You know what happens when I do that? People get pissed. Here’s a response from TC:
“i get the same thing from people and ya know what? let em think what they want! i really dont give a shit! i have a mind of my own and i have the freedoms to choose as i please, the freedom to choose what party to belong to, freedom to vote for who i wanna vote for….i will not vote democrat! not a chance in hell!”
Okey dokey, TC. Glad to know you have a mind of your own; although, I’m a little frightened of its contents…
In an earlier instance, I responded to a slur banner referencing Obama’s speech about small business. In my response, I included the full text regarding small business, not just the line being used out of context to create hate and hostility. Here’s what I got back from BH:
“If you have ever seen a chimp handed a banana, you’ve seen this idiot!!!”
I overlooked BH’s obvious racist remark and instead suggested that he use his time to advocate for the candidate of his choice instead of slurring Obama. Then I challenged him to give me three reasons why he supported his candidate with non-partisan facts to back up his choice. I even suggested he visit www.politifact.com, a non-partisan website, where he could dig something up in the event he was clueless.
BH never responded.
It’s not just friends, mind you, some of my family members are doing the same thing. Blood ties are not excluded from my information campaign. The result? Many of my family members have unfriended me. They can’t bear to have me to post facts and cite non-partisan sources on their walls. Pity, really.
The truth is that people don’t know the facts, nor do they want to know them. Even when it’s laid out in front of them, they prefer to remain deaf, dumb and blind. If that’s not a demonstration of the decline of American intellect, I don’t know what is.
I understand that people may have legitimate reasons for being unhappy with some of Obama’s policies. He can’t please everyone. All I’m asking for are explanations. What I get, if anything, is emotionalism. Name calling. Rhetoric. That’s hardly how I would define an educated debate.
I’m counting down the days until the election when I can stop patrolling my Facebook pages for opportunities to educate uninformed voters. It’s exhausting, frustrating work. The only reason I do it is because I know that, while the angry responders are too far gone to be shifted, there are quiet folks reading along…the ones still considering, learning, absorbing. I reply to the uninformed, ignorant posts so that the quiet readers have an opportunity to get the truth in between the rhetoric. If they care about what is best for our country, they will make the right choice. And it will be an educated and informed one.
Image found here.