Monday, January 11, 2021

My FB page (and feed( is too toxic. Should I just start over? A friend's query

Well, the title gives you the premise, so, let's just dive in:
I've lived a few other places and will again, soon, so I've collected a nice array of FB friends between that and Friending people who share my hobbies and activities. It must be more difficult for people who have created a more homegrown base.

Now, this is not a problem for some of my edgier friends on Facebook who will tolerate little aggravation. Some of them cultivate material that would scare off people who might attack them, like, nearly-nude fantasia tableaus they draw professionally and for fun. He's had some good primary season arguments, but he's long-since been out and proud. Same argument applies to people who place their profession of, say, Christianity first. My second cousin was raised by missionaries in two different African nations. (Socializing in a Black-majority culture has added a different dimension than more socially-isolated Evangelicals). Live and let live.

Those two people, by the way, actually share some critical common ground. And they both have me as a Facebook friend.

A long-suffering friend had a dilemma: he supports Democratic candidates and causes, but his social sphere, cultivated from school, work, and especially, church, contains many who aggrieve him in long comment chains of posts. I occasionally add a mental judo-throw to the melee, but keep ad hominem attacks out of it. It's enough there's an inspired voice of dissent, but really, if I weren't sheltering-in-place, I have to imagine I'd spend the time actually socializing.

I shouldn't take it personally, but I will tell you, I have a very low tolerance for lying and spreading lies. It's practically religious with me. That said, you can write stories without conflict, but that's almost a poem, a dream journal- which is fine. Conflict resolution is the primary driver of most dramatic creations. But I don't want my past time to be rife with drama, either. So, my friend - who sincerely means peace and forgiveness- has found his posts attract a struggle for which, stakes considered, he's become weary. One of the dumbest things a smart person could do, some like my friend Jake Thompson say, is appeal to dumb people with logic. I don't think we're so utterly divided as the passions for certain ideas may imply. I know another friend who just doesn't want the locals peeping in on his true life as a scholar and practioner of Wester Mysteries, because of his place in society, for one. He zapped his account rather than devote time to preserving it, even under an alias. It just becomes unworkable when context 'outs' you.

There's a fulcrum for every decision you weigh.

My friend who inspired this post sincerely is sorry if he's upset anyone, but should he just delete his account, start over- what?

I honestly spent one night in August deleting individuals, most of whom weren't in any contact anyway, based on who had driven me nuts putting out dangerous misinformation and people who support T****. I'm sure I left a few for personal reasons. Your list might reflect more people you know from your walk of life. I came to look at it as a symbol of my protest against people poisoning social media. If it seems unfair, I can only say they were stressing me out with their illogical reality, and do I log in to be stressed out? No. I am already dealing with strictly-limited contact. I wanted more time for posts and people who interest me and reflect positive relationships.

I did have hopes in the first months of the pandemic that I could defuse some misconceptions because it's life-or-death, severe illness and the consequences of inadvertantly spreading harm. I wanted to help people think of how they might live with a clear conscience and good health, and make a good example of how they might spread that idea (instead of COVID-19). At least, maybe they would respect me just a little and see how another might view things. It was soon apparent how much of that percerption was tied up in a culture war reflected in politics that disagreed on our goals and fundamental facts as a nation.

I was tired of arguing. My friends bring me all the bad news I can countenance, but they don't post lies and support of liars. I left a childhood friend's Mom, and she sent me a wildly illogical video post of a 'pastor' which gave me insight as to those who support and believe in a coming period of martial law to strengthen a T***** dictatorship. But I love her and told her not to worry and why that was not practical.

Now, I'm glad I was available- if everyone who felt suppressed closed their account and went over to Parler, then...oh, yeah. That didn't last long. But if those people aren't really seeing what I have to say, I'm not adding to the factors they weigh in what they think about. Maybe if I'm available, there's a chance they'll at least consider how someone might think very differently? Do I want to pay the price of losing whatever we might have in common? Maybe it's not my job to change their minds.

If they miss me, they can always request me, and I, them. Am I lowering my threshold for the reaction of my nerves for disagreement? That's a risk. But on the other hand, I didn't sign up for Facebook to acquire a torture test, either.

So, I do leave space for people who are in a different headspace, but they don't show up trying to gaslight me, walk all over me, bully me, or distress me on my page. I spent years collecting these photos, posts and contacts, so I rather value my account. I use it to make my mental space, a better place.

Be Chill, Cease ill

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The pen should answer the sword: Responsibility, in the Capitol Riots aftermath

Not for nothing is the pen considered mightier than the sword. For one, it was not strong warrior hands which most threatened the well-being of a nation and its elected officials today, but disproportionately small, weak ones, opposable thumbs, an opposition to the republic you American friends pledged to as children. The sword- with buffoonish desecration, in the aimless majority, but motivated to overturn the counted (sometimes thrice-counted) votes that inform the certified electoral votes-struck the doors of our Capitol. The 'sword' slashed into a chamber whose abuse of power we have customarily despised, whose duty to society, however we judge earnestly what it has yielded, is a place symobolic of our hope that we may talk, a more diverse people, of best plans. May it be a humbler, less selfish place. (Yet, the continued business of scoring points off baseless claims of fraud was a continued business.) The preservation of that hope, calls for the might of the pen, now. May every villain run a'snare of Justice. May an example be written and executed as a resounding reminder that the preservation of the laws, in turn, places not its executors, above them, nor beyond the causal threads of the web of Consequences.

A further examination of the aftermath- there was no apparent plan for a replacement government, just nihilism and securing the unlawful rein of Donald Trump- has revealed a chilling amount of precision amidst the hooliganism. Elaine Godfrey of The Atlantic reports:
A screaming mob had forced its way into the Capitol on the west side, and more people were climbing through the broken windows of the east entrance. A group led by a man in a QAnon T-shirt chased a police officer up to the second floor, chanting and demanding to speak with senators. Some wore tactical gear—helmets, armor, and black masks covering their entire face. It was easy to miss them with all the coverage of the costumes and poop-smearing and poses struck in Statuary Hall, but they were there, these military-styled men, carrying blunt instruments and fistfuls of zip ties, better known as flex cuffs, capable of restraining hostages. At least one was an Air Force combat veteran, The New Yorker reported. They seemed to act with purpose and knew their way around the Capitol. One carried a semiautomatic weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails. Later, police officers found the two pipe bombs. The devices were outside the buildings housing the Democratic and Republican National Committees, just blocks from the Capitol. Federal agents discovered a truck full of rifles, shotguns, and bomb-making supplies parked outside the RNC headquarters.
Will the Party of Law and Order idea actually play in two years? I also wonder if there's going to be a third party. How are they going to appeal to suburbanites after this day? It was just such a huge dark, I'm not sure it's sank in, yet. How will enabling Trump gain anyone's further trust now? I'll be honest, it's a wonder this ended without more fighting-to-the-death. It's a wonder we have a space to think of this as over, because it still might be just the eye of the storm, despite its climatic nature. There was a point where the nation couldn't be sure we weren't about to hear about dead Congress people or hostages. T*****'s refusal to concede fueled this by a factor of, say, a hundred. People with no agenda except following a faithless demagogue attempted a coup, today. Everything else he's done: 75 million voters.

Do they dare stymie this legally without fear of reprisal? There will be more if he's not re-instated, and the reaction to that would be the ultimate American nightmare. I think removing him also removes the objective that galvanizes specific actions.

Do they (and what 'they') dare stymie this legally without fear of reprisal? There will be more if he's not re-instated, and the reaction to that would be the ultimate American nightmare. I think removing him also removes the objective that galvanizes specific violent action.

There's got to be a serious surgery. I asked myself so many times: who's going to realize they can be Republicans without being Trumpites? So much of this movement is built on fear of percieved leftist extremism- but can they count on "we're not as bad as them" to offer voters, security? Voting is about security and preservation of rights, moreso than to simply vent anger. Even the wrath against Trump tied directly, not to being personally insulted, but actually endangered. Materially disenfranchised, as natural and fiduciary resources are pirated.

It's so Machiavellian, these end-of-America fear-motivations tossed about. There's got to be enough peace among us to debate the value of our strategies to survive, individually, but as individuals among a people.

Who's going to realize there's no other way to sell the conservative party as rational?

Not for nothing is the pen considered mightier than the sword.

Friday, January 1, 2021

'Jet,' 'God' : light-hearted joy and profound questioning, in McCartney and Lennon, alive today

'Jet' and 'God' sort of embody the extremes I enjoy most in McCartney and Lennon as solo artists. Well-crafted, listenable, upbeat, driving music with nonsensically-born lyrics? That's 'Jet.'
Stunningly-profound, haunting lyrics and a bedroom-demo sound? That's 'God.'
I've lately been more preoccpied- and directly contrasting- the work of the Beatles song writers, after the Beatles parted. You don't have to pick a side, but you're likely to have a preference. I assumed mine was Lennon, who I saw as bucking commercialism (but not always- even 'Imagine,' the signature hit and the album, were steps towards crafting music for better sales). He challenged notions at the fabric of society, existential questions and alternative ways of looking at ourselves. Paul, I thought I could dismiss as more disposable pop craft.

Paul wrote some meaningful lyrics- sometimes deceptively so, like ' Silly Love Songs' -and stripped back demo-like work like 'Ram On' and 'Dear Friend.' He seems most profound when talking about very personal relationships, like with John, like with Linda. I love the vulnerablity of "Maybe I'm Amazed" but lyrically, it's just a bit deeper than a nice Hallmark card. It's the music that takes it above and beyond- I can feel what his lyrics suggest, all over.

I don't find his pop 70s offerings, particularly philosophical or cerebrally-challenging. In December, 2020, however, I preferred his music to attempting a deep dive into Christmas spirit. I didn't feel hostile towards Christmas- I didn't want to reject it, anymore than I would a dear friend. But I did trade in that seasonal festivity and its stories to be cocooned in McCartney's catchy tunes of another time. I liked the rock sounds of "Junior's Farm" instead. His work is geared more towards relaxing, unwinding and having a good time. His live releases are slick!
The last week of December, I really loaded up on cuts from John's stark solo premier. John, to me, is often at his best using Art to unsettle you- or conversely, you could say he's providing kinshp for people whose minds rebel against more typical bourgeousie strictures. He can put into music things you're not allowed to express in most general company here in the deepest Red State district of Georgia. You can believe in whatever traditions and structures make your personal meanings in life, bold. However, it's good to have those beliefs, not out of a dedication to close-mindedness, but having the growth as a person to listen to an appeal to open your mind, about how you come to that relation.

Conversely, John could be professional and craftsman-like: 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night,' I also like him when he merges catchy pop-rock sounds and fun with his wry word play and counter-cultural point of view, like the song "Nobody Told Me"- an unfinished song that Yoko completed and released to become John's last new Top 10 hit, in 1984. I feel like, in his paens to his marriage and his adoration of his son Sean (he did reunite with Julian during his 'Lost Weekend' phase), he may not be stodgy, but he does capture the maturity to appreciate the benefits of domestic bliss. Better than angst-ridden, brain-pickling penders, anyway.

But generally, "Jet" and "God" embody the way I think of their decade of solo work.

"Jet" had a title inspired, depending on when you ask, by either Paul's Labrador, or his pony. He puts together sounds, with little regard for coherent logic. There's some kind of love-longing and admiration for some breath-taking woman who embodies the inspiration of Passion- a song about The Muse. But what is this nonsense about your father, the Sargeant Major? Even 'suffragette' is only there as a play on 'Jet.' He's on record saying, with this and other songs, don't bother looking for a complex allegory and deeper meaning. This is why I continue to be comfortable singing the bridge with "Darth Vader" and "light saber," or as my wife put it, "Ralph Nader." They mean just as much as the use of 'mater,' Latin for 'mother.'

When John uses "Mother" it's often about his profound alienation as a child. The one time he has fun with it, he doesn't mean mother in the sense of 'mater' at all- it's "most peculiar, mama"- when he's having so much fun, also (like Paul in Jet, playing with sounds of words) playing word games, in "Nobody Told Me," like a take-off on "Mama told me there'd be days like this." He challenges the way we define God in "God." He rejects the mass movements and most idoltarized figures of the 60s, only to land squarely in the humility of his true identity, beneath all the mythologizing that went with being a Beatle.

His choice of "God" as title and subject is as deliberate as Paul's choice of the word "Jet" as title and subject are haphazard. "Jet" is all about the euphoric emotions whipped up by the music. "God" is as introverted, wistful and personal as "Jet" is extroverted, jubilant and made for the purpose of a commercially-viable single. Not that Paul set out to write a single, there- I don't wish to slight his creative process. He was just following his stoned Muse. "God" is, however dour and stark, not without joy, either, because in the end, John finds warmth in his existential crisis- even if he is ever-so melancholy for those who needed and used "The Dream" in establishing meanings. After all, were we not all simply searching, now as in the 60s?

However shallow and adolescent one might judge the modern era, there is also very nearly an even stronger surge in cultural revolution. Social consciousness may've seemed secondary if you look at 70s pop culture, but mourning for its demise was premature.

There may be no end of absurdity and dance challenges on Tik Tok, but the conversations that were part of the counter-cultural zeitgeist have a much-wider audience among the young people of today. It's McCartney, but it's Lennon, too. Welcome to the new decade- 'May it begin strongly with efforts of Hope and Light!'- The Marc Kane