Editor’s note: The following comes from a longtime journalist who specializes in writing for major media outlets and private companies about robots, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
I’m not a social media person, but a few days ago, I posted my very first comment on Instagram, in response to a woman whose site I had read for years. Enraged by the border story, she had just posted an Instagram ordering those who didn’t see the world her way to take a hike.
It puzzled me at first. Hers is not a political site – far from it. And though she claimed she didn’t care about likes, I know that she has struggled for years with the classic insecurity bloggers often face when confronted with the popularity contest that is the Internet. She was posting in order to vent — and to let others know that she was, unlike half the country, kind, good-hearted and moral.
She was, in essence, although genuinely (and understandably) angered by the idea of children in distress, virtue signaling… another common symptom found on Internetitis.
“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, jabronis!” she wrote. (I had to look that one up; it’s cool kid slang for ignorant.)
Was she kicking non-leftists — conservatives, libertarians and classic liberals — off her Instagram? I decided to ask.
We’ve had lunch together years ago (a prelude to an interview I did with her). When her first child was born, I sent her a gift, and when her husband started a small business, I supported their young, gutsy entrepreneurial spirit by purchasing some merchandise.
She doesn’t “know” me, but she should know me well enough to see that I am not the “monster” she thinks all those not on the left to be.
I posted. My comment was polite, respectful and pointed out that she might not have the whole story. (Although I shouldn’t have to say this, the audio we all heard broke my heart and angered me as well. No compassionate human being alive can be immune to the sounds of a child in distress. But that wasn’t my point in my comment. My point, in response to her post, is that she was vilifying people outright based on a very narrow version of that story… and that furthering the divide doesn’t exactly engender progress towards solutions.)
You can imagine what happened next: All remnants of “inclusiveness” and “LoveTrumpsHate” went out the window. Other commenters railed at me, calling me self-righteous, IGNORANT, and other names. And the blogger herself showed me the door: I wasn’t good enough for her. In the face of my terribleness, she told the crowd, she would “draw the line.”
She was superior to me. Period.
It wasn’t a great shock. These are the same types of people who shunned conservative family members the Thanksgiving after Donald Trump won the election. In the extreme, this is the same type who opened fire on a group of Republican Congressmen (a story the media quickly dropped, which would not have happened if they’d been Democrats). The same type who openly wish horrible fates on the wife and child of the president.
I tried to post another comment, in response to some of the attacks.
It wouldn’t post. I’d been blocked. And demonized. For stating that she might not have the whole story, and that it might be good to listen to each other.
The lessons here:
Leftism, as Mr. Prager has stated for years, is the world’s fastest growing religion.
It is a tribe. A belief system. An identity.
People like to belong to something. In the absence of traditional religion in the West, Leftism has filled that vacuum in the form of identity politics.
When Barack Obama won his second election, I was upset. After having covered him in the 2008 Presidential Campaign, and having voted for him then, I’d seen how recklessly and deliberately he had run up the debt – in what Dinesh D’Souza calls the ultimate weapon of mass destruction – and how he had fomented race wars in a way not seen before in my lifetime.
But did I shun my leftist friends? Did I demonize them for wanting kids to be confused about what chromosomes they had? Did I “ghost” them – the way a number of acquaintances did me when they found out I wasn’t part of their tribe?
Of course not. But politics isn’t my identity. If someone disagrees with me, I’m not under the illusion that they are rejecting who I am.
Not so on the left. (And I’m not talking about classic liberals here — those JFK types who share many conservative values but think that bigger government is the answer to society’s problems.)
If I don’t think a man who happily baked for gay people should be forced to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, then I am a homophobic bigot. (Tell my best friend of 25 years, who is gay, and whose wedding I’ve offered to plan.)
If I think that voting for someone simply because it’s “time” for a woman to be president is a silly reason to do so, I am anti-woman. (I’m a woman.)
If I know, from having worked in the news media for 15 years, that the press is, by and large, top-down, lock-step on the left, then I am an alt-right fringe conspiracy theorist… and a fascist at that.
The blogger in question didn’t want to discuss the story. Didn’t want to discuss issues. Didn’t want to discuss solutions. What she wanted was to feel good about her position, and to signal it to all those around her. (My husband calls it — forgive the crudeness — virtubating.)
She wants to tell everyone she’s in the right tribe.
She wants to believe that all not in that tribe are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad people.
That reinforces her belief that her tribe — her identity – is correct.
That’s why they truly believe that anyone not on the left want children in cages and treated like animals.
And if there’s a question that this is about identity — let this blogger be an example. Earlier, she had posted that she’d lost a lot of her patriotism after Trump’s election.
In other words — her tribe had lost. So she didn’t like the country anymore.
But then she started getting into genealogy and found out that her ancestors were on the Mayflower. And that — being Northerners — they’d been on the correct side during the first Civil War.
That made her patriotic again.
Note — it wasn’t the tenets of America, the freedoms upon which we were founded, the extraordinary courage of the Founding Fathers and those who fought with them — that made her patriotic.
It was her family’s identity.
See – the Left doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism.
It believes in its own.