Friday, July 29, 2016

The Phony World Of The Era of Trump

The Omnivore's experience on social media has been remarkably peaceful. Maybe even cloistered. With a FB feed that had mostly friend-friends (and was used mostly to publish Omnivore posts) and a Twitter account that followed a lot of people--but rarely got into the fray--it was without much drama.

Trump changed that.

The Omnivore's FB feed filled up with a few people posting "Conservative Memes and News" from a variety of sites that contained data ranging from complete falsehoods to heavily biased articles with a grain or two of real truth. Some of these were just opinion pieces (LIKE If You Hate Hillary) but others were out and out lies.

The Omnivore was amazed: do they really believe these things? If so, it would explain a lot. Or are they just passively aggressively spamming social media with bullshit because it signals they're "part of the tribe?" Are they trolling? The Omnivore wasn't sure.

The Bet: Two Points On A Line

Fortunately, The Omnivore knew how to find out. A wager is the proper response to someone taking an absurdly stupid (if provable) position. For one FB friend, when he posted racial crime data that was made up by a white supremacist (and re-tweeted by Donald Trump), The Omnivore challenged him: if you can prove those stats are real to The Omnivore's satisfaction, he'll vote Trump in November.

But if he can prove it's faked to the poster's satisfaction, they have to vote for anyone but Trump. This would all be proven with a quasi-legal "Ballot Selfie" showing the person and their marked ballot.

If nothing could be proven to anyone's satisfaction, it would be a "push." Nothing happens.

This is about the safest bet you could ever take--you have to be convinced you propagated a lie to lose. If it's inconclusive? No harm.

But the guy wouldn't take the bet. He'd challenge me to "prove him wrong"--but he wouldn't put anything on the line. He'd point to some other stuff he posted and claim it was "the same" (it wasn't) and therefore I'd "already lost" (the other stuff was FBI stats used to miss the point of Black Lives Matter). He's shift the goal-posts.

But he wouldn't bet.

The other FB friend posted a lot of this stuff. He clearly had it in for Hillary and Obama. When The Omnivore asked him, fundamentally, why he didn't like Obama, he copy-pasted a wall of text that accused Obama of issuing a slew of Executive Orders that let him take over America.

These were actually EO's issued by John F. Kennedy and they were around planning and such in the case of a nuclear attack--but this guy's go-to reason to dislike Obama was based on pure fiction. Obama hadn't issued them--they'd been around for decades.

When The Omnivore asked him if he believed this, he gave The Omnivore a link to the White House's web page and said it was all there. When The Omnivore told him it wasn't, he claimed it was.

So . . . The Omnivore bet him. Same bet. He'd have to be satisfied he'd told a lie.

He wouldn't take it. He wouldn't even answer after a while (this is a guy who had no problem pushing for answers to his questions).

Point Three: Twitter

Today on Twitter, The Omnivore accidentally wound up in a conversation with a Trump voter. The Trump voter had posted this:

US Spartan (a name that would become ironic later) was asserting that Saul Alinsky, the boogeyman community organizer of the right, had written a plan that Obama and Hillary were now following. The piece is full of anachronisms (Healthcare as a focal point, for example) and exists nowhere but that meme--but it's a good way to try to connect Hillary and Obama to an attempt to overthrow America.

Did The American Spartan believe this? The Omnivore offered a bet. These are some excerpts.

In the end, he "muted" The Omnivore and his friend blocked The Omnivore. The Omnivore is pretty sure that's not what a Spartan would have done (and not what someone who was bragging about crybabies blocking him either).

What's Going On Here?

When the Mainstream Media refused to grant the Republicans the narrative spin they wanted, they declared the Mainstream Media to be liars. Their base took it literally, believing that only conservative news sources could be trusted for anything. This lack of faith in fact-checking, authoritative records, or journalistic technique leads to a sense that all things are basically "equally true."

The Omnivore concludes that for these Republicans the world looks like a place full of lies. Nothing can be known for sure--everything is up for grabs. If I had shown SamSparta8 the page on the fake Alinsky quotes he would have just said it was liberal lies. If I'd pointed out that stuff like the Healthcare line doesn't make sense for the 1960's, he'd have no sense of history.

This is a guy for whom memes are facts--or, if not 'facts' at least close enough that he feels okay sending them out there.

But he knows, deep down, it isn't true. When cornered he ran--not much of a Spartan after all. Perhaps he knows that he can't tell? Or that when he does look closely he turns out to be wrong? The Omnivore isn't sure.


  1. The social psychologists have been telling us for some time that all politics are identity politics. And, flawed beings that we are, our most unshakable beliefs tend to be the ones tied to our senses of identity.

    So no, nobody's going to take your bet - they literally can't. And you knew it, too.


  2. Fox News has been prepping us for this for years. Trump is just the guy who happens to be cashing in bigger than anyone previously thought to.

  3. Both sides of the left-right spectrum have a tendency to listen-to and believe more strongly in "their cheerleaders", I suppose. But it seems to this liberal, who appreciates input from different perspectives, that "Spartan" up there represents an oddly recurrent narcissistic-personality-disorder within the aggregate Republican electorate. Even in the face of the sometimes obvious and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, you simply can not disabuse them of their internally created version of reality. I don't think it bodes well for them.
    Gak! Sounds like my ex-wife.