What happened to that, by the way? What's with the battle-lines? What's with the absolutism? I mean, for God's sake, we had Gov. Christie exhorting the mob at the RNC screaming "GUILTY!" at Hillary Clinton, followed by chants of "Lock her up!" Kind of chilling.
We've got social commenters tweeting "Kill the cops!" and counter-tweets "Kill the BLM!" and so on and so forth.
I hate to be a "in my day" kind of old fogy, but I guess I am one, so let's embrace it.
See, before social media, if you wanted to express an opinion anonymously, your options were:
2. Prank calls
3. Physical bulletin boards
4. Wearing a mask and costume and going into bingo halls and screaming.
All of those have some limitations. You could only affect people who were physically present (a tiny number compared to now) and in most cases, ran some risk of being "caught." Now, though, you can vent your spleen (look it up. Keyword: humours) with total anonymity and safety.
It's a question I ask one of my colleagues. Did the proliferation of social media CREATE or EXPOSE these kinds of abhorrent folks? Were there ALWAYS these Id-monsters lurking among us, waiting for some kind of method to come to life, or has social media MADE them?
Remember that great old sci-fi flick, Forbidden Planet? Leslie Neilsen leads a spaceship to rescue Dr. Morbius and his daughter Altaira (they live on a planet circling Altair, get it?) in a loose reimagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest?
But what was really cool about the movie (aside from the animated monster caught in the laser-fence) was the alien device that powered the plot--a massive structure built by the ancient Krell race that allowed their thoughts to be instantly made manifest. You think it, it becomes real. You are hungry for jalapeno potato chips? Think about 'em, and boom you got a bag of 'em. Sounds nifty, right?
Yeah, but what happens when you think that you want to kill your husband 'cos he didn't take out the trash? You make a husband-killing monster. The point was, if your thoughts become manifest, what about your darker thoughts? What the movie (and Freud) called the ID?
I think the Republicans have built the Krell machine. They have spent the last twenty years or so (maybe more, if you want to go back to the Southern Strategy) building this machine. Tapping into the uncritical, unthinking ID of the body politic, disregarding facts, disregarding compromise, absolutely demonizing opposition, using hyperbolic language, dispensing with statecraft.
And now, they've turned it on.
And hey, presto! Out comes Donald Trump.
"Monsters, John! Monsters from the ID!"
Be seeing you!