I’d love to see President Trump somehow get a second term. He’s done a lot of good, I voted for him twice, I actively campaigned for him and I predicted he’d win.
But I see now – in fact, I’ve seen for over a month – that due to a combination of bad luck on COVID, bad campaigning, bad personality and bad fraud, he won’t serve a second term after all.
I’m disappointed, but that doesn’t make me a traitor. I have not turned against Trump, but simply recognized that he has lost.
Manifesting my disappointment through denial and fantasy will not help. Reality cares nothing about my feelings of disappointment. What reality cares about are my real actions to obtain a different outcome in the future, not my fervent wishes for a different outcome in the past.
In addition, just because I really wanted Trump to win doesn’t mean that his loss is the end of the world. The world goes on, as does America. If you don’t believe it, you haven’t watched the stock market lately. The Harvard MBA’s at Goldman Sachs – not exactly a foolish crew – think we’ll be OK.
Many people see it differently, or, more precisely, feel it differently. Their beliefs are dictated not by the reality of the world around them, but by their feelings. They feel passionately that Trump should win, and so they believe he will – even after he lost.
They mindlessly attack anyone whose eyes are open to reality rather than blinded by similar passion. Moreover, they think the world revolves around their desires. Because they really wanted Trump to win, they conclude it’s the end of the world if he doesn’t. As if the fate of the world hinges on their personal wants.
Such fact-impervious people do poorly in the stock market, poorly in their careers, and poorly in life.
But they do great on Facebook – that modern substitute for friends, family and reality. Facebook people and their “Facebook friends” are untethered from the constraints of realism, logic, civility, facts, personal relationships and accountability. They can and do give free rein to their fantasies.
They bludgeon anyone who dares to spoil those fantasies. They even bludgeon anyone who disputes their self-centered belief that the failure of the world to comply with their wants, means the end of the world’s existence.
This fantasy Facebook existence would not be so bad if it were just a game, but for many it’s more than that. Facebook doesn’t just supplement their real life, but replaces it. Facebook allows them to choose “friends” who confirm their fantasies, and unfriend ones who don’t.
The algorithms of Facebook also contribute to this. The algorithms learn about the user’s likes and dislikes, and then channel to the user the stuff with which the user agrees in order to entice him into more Facebook use. It’s good business for Facebook, but terrible for the distribution of objective information.
These two aspects of Facebook – the deliberate choosing of “friends” by the user who reinforce his own biases and Facebook’s own pandering to those biases – result in an echo chamber belief system. It’s a cult.
The user chooses to think – nay, feel – that his cult makes a difference. The user feels that he and his cult are fighting for the cause.
But of course, they’re not. They’re not donating money to political candidates, they’re not volunteering for phone banks or neighborhood canvas teams, they’re not serving as poll watchers, they’re not espousing their political beliefs at work where they risk disapproval, they’re not writing newspaper columns or blogs in an effort to sway the undecided people.
They’re just bitchin’ on Facebook. And sometimes they holler at the TV.
The signatories to the Declaration of Independence concluded with, “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” The greatness they initiated and later produced was a direct result of the greatness of their prior commitment, investment, work and risk.
Today’s self-congratulatory, fantasy-filled, no-commitment, no-investment, no-work, no-risk equivalent would read something like, “Me and my lowlife Facebook ‘friends’ that I’ve never met and care nothin’ about will do a lot of Facebook bitchin’ because it’s pleasurable to fantasize that our bitchin’ will win for Trump the election he lost two months ago.”
When that “effort” fails, they won’t blame themselves. They never do. They’ll instead blame the system that they were too stupid, lazy and self-centered to operate.
I pray for a day when “I’m on Facebook” is met with the same incredulous scorn as “I’m into child pornography.” Until that day arrives, just give them dirty looks and offer them a Budweiser.