Linda Belans 8-17-19
We've been framed.
Not the kind that sets us up to take the fall. But framed as in setting a binary narrative to describe, define, and divide us – politically, socially, culturally, and morally.
Binary – the new ism spawned by social media, stoked by dark political forces, fueled by anger, fear, and moral or righteous indignation.
Binary is the ism that worries me deeply.
FB and Twitter are lazy, ultimately dangerous formats to have political disagreements: flat words on a screen absent human form, energy, intended inflections, and facial expressions. With the asynchronous medium as the message, and anonymity as its cover, it is challenging to soften the hard lines drawn around our arguments. Arguments often made to 'friends’ we have never met or hardly know or rarely see, in a voyeur-like setting. We don’t know who's listening/watching, or where or how our words get scattered after we move on to the next constantly shifting target. It's cyber shadow-boxing.
Our posts are usually linked to essays that keep us bound in our own points of view, or make us accomplices to perpetuating poorly sourced or false articles, and erroneous attributions. Social media is a place to state or engage in an argument, look for allies, judge, dismiss, reject, or unfriend those who disagree. By definition, keep a closed mind. Social media is the hit-and-run of opinions – we have the luxury of walking away from the argument we sometimes start. Or propel.
Even now, those who are reading this post, might be imbuing me with intentions I don't have. There is no way you can hear the sorrow in my voice, or the fear. There is no way you can feel my deep desire to be in rich discussions with three-dimensional friends in these perilous times, as our fragile democracy dangles over the precipice.