The Resistance

Brain Hack: The Looming Disaster of #Hashtag Resistance

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is destroying our country in so many ways. The sheer destructive capacity of his narcissism is breath-taking. It isn’t awe inspiring, but it is awing as in, I’m in fucking awed; I am awe struck; dumbfounded, even.

If he had the executive functioning necessary to do anything systematically, I’d say he was systematically attacking our democratic institutions, which is terrible, but, he is also, destroying our culture. If we let him win, we will not recognize our country in 2020.

A quick aside: This post is one of an interrelated series on (a) the corrosive toxic effect the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s use of chaos and misinformation  (Deflecting to Clinton), (b) the ways social media is changing our culture and interactions (Brain Hack: the Looming Disaster), and (c) how all this is likely to affect the future of our country. The series includes posts and memes. Unfortunately, it means that general information like the Illusion of Truthiness (with appologies to Stephen Colbert) is spread throughout as it is used to explain and illustrate phenomenon.

The Destruction of Our Democracy

His assault on our democratic institutions is well documented and a daily occurrence. The media is fake news. It’s all lies told by the most dishonest people in the world. The effrontery of his attack is so shocking that we hardly know how to respond. It is so unprecedented that we have no clear guide as to how to effectively respond.

Those who dare to defy him and push back – God bless April Ryan, amirite? – get visits from the flying monkey brigades threatening them with death and destruction and worse! Those with lower profiles are mobbed by the meme and sticker brigades.

His administration is populated by people bent on destroying the agencies they run, and many second-tier appointments still haven’t been made leaving offices empty. Nowhere is this more truer than the State Department. And, it is the chiefest reason that Puerto Rico is in the state it is in. He can’t be bothered. Just let it rot.

Congress has been effectively nullified, sidelined, benched. Have you noticed? No major pieces of legislation passed. Not even the signature bills that they all agree on and are emblematic of conservatism. Guess what, Congress, you are indeed, irrelevant. Ha! Cancelled by his massive ego and executive dysfunction.

The courts are being filled with unqualified conservative activists bent on upholding the laws that are pleasing to them and align with their ideologies, but not necessarily aligned with the Constitution.

By 2020, we could have a 7-2 conservative split on the Supreme Court. Can you imagine? We’ll be undoing Social Security! We’ll be unmaking every progressive accomplishment since FDR!

It will take a generation to undo what he has done to the judiciary.

It will take a generation to rebuild our democratic institutions and our trust in them. And that brings us to culture.

The Assault on Culture

How the fuck does he do it? Has he made a deal with the devil? Or is it just the effect of his frenetic chaos? Is it the shear genius of #FakeNews? Is it the cynical exploitation of the social media brain hack of a false sense of accomplishment?

The Social Media Brain Hack

My encounter with the two weakest trolls on the FaceBooks illustrates the later perfectly. Seriously, I posted the meme about Rex Tillerson calling the Ol’ Pussy Grabber a fucking moron. The weakest dumbest troll on the FaceBooks posts a laughing until your eyes stream with tears sticker. I attack him for having nothing meaningful to add to the conversation, and he responds with more gifs. Eventually, when he’s pushed to use his words, he thinks I’m mad because he doesn’t agree with me and didn’t like my meme.

Shared Culture

That interaction fell apart because we did not share a culture. It fell apart because he wasn’t trying to discuss, he was trying to harass. He felt comfortable and justified in harassing me because I was the icky foreigner to him. He saw me as foreign, meaning that we didn’t share a culture because culture consists of the things we have in common: beliefs, traditions, language, understandings, and more. In short, if you and I look at the same thing, the closer our two interpretations of it are to one another, the more culture we share. We were looking at the same thing, a media report that Rex Tillerson called the Ol’ Pussy Grabber a fucking moron, and saw two very different things. He saw fake news. I saw reliable understandable news.

What has happened to our culture? We have Nazis running down citizens in their cars in Charlottesville. I’m willing to bet thirty years ago, half of white America would have been driven to its knees weeping at that scene. It would’ve been inconceivable. Indeed, it was a similar scene fifty years ago on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that allowed the Civil Rights Act to pass. Such cruelty and inhumanity was viewed as unthinkable. Liberal, conservative, bigot, humanist, alike saw it the same way: unspeakable. We don’t treat each other that way. We don’t set dogs and fire hoses on peaceful protesters no matter their skin color. But today, it is okay to run down protesters from the other side with your car simply because you don’t like ’em.

We have successfully dehumanized the opposition. Congratulations, you dumb motherfuckers.

Shifted Culture

We have police officers gunning down innocent citizens in their cars while they reach for their driver’s license to comply with the officer’s orders and trying to reassure the officer by explaining their license to carry a concealed weapon, but the officer shot him anyway because the officer feared for his life. We do not universally see that as being horrifying and wrong. Luckily, most of us still do on our best days, but there is a significant minority that does not. Our culture has shifted.

We do not universally see mowing down peaceful protesters with a car in the name of white supremacy and Nazism as universally wrong. We pause to consider both sides and to acknowledge that (a) both sides do it (they do not) and (b) there are good people on both sides (there are not).

We are allowing three million Americans to languish in Neanderthal-like conditions on Puerto Rico, and we are not reacting with universal outrage. We are witnessing a slow genocide in Puerto Rico, and we are hemming and hawing instead of fomenting revolution in the streets.

We have denied nine million children healthcare by letting CHIP expire quietly in the night. Barely a ripple caused by our collective shrug, #Resistance.

The #Hashtag #Resistance is literally killing us and killing our democracy because we feel we’ve done something by posting a hashtag. Great.

The Free Press

We have straight up solid reporting exposing the worst excesses of an incompetent, venial, corrupt administration, and we are mired in arguments about #FakeNews. We are witnessing the free press being taken apart limb by limb without an effective response other than #FakeNews #Resist #MuellerTime. Aren’t I cool?

Dismantling our Culture

Our culture is being dismantled right before our eyes. We know this because we are not reacting with outrage to the outrageous events being perpetrated by this administration. Many of us still feel outrage at them, but are stymied by what to do. We know to resist and to protest — revolution is still out of the question just like it was back in 1929 — but now our brain is hacked by the #Hashtag #Resistance because posting a meme feels like we’ve accomplished something.

Right… #Resist, #Impeach, #25thAmendment, #MuellerTime… see what I’m doing here? Because the hashtag protests are not outrage. It is not influencing anyone or anything. But, it is lulling you into a false sense of security! The equivalent of Bart Simpson saying Ha! Ha! whenever something “bad” has happened. It’s the most he could do to help out.

But, but, but, they can see how many we are! We had a million+ women in the streets right after inauguration. There are protests everyday some where in the country. We have signs and songs and chants. We have #Hashtags and ugly insults!

Do you think they care? Or do you think they are just allowing all the protesting and posting to use up your energy waiting for you to give up? They think they’ve already won because all you can do is protest and post. They don’t think you’ll vote. They think enough of us will vote because they’ve given ’em $1,000.00 dollars — bought cheap — or won’t vote because we can’t get over our hard on for Hillary.

Engagement and Disengagement

When Obamacare was directly threatened by legislation, we called our legislators and barely stopped the threat. But, now that it is being taken apart bit by bit undermined and sabotaged, we sit helplessly tweeting our impotence 140 characters at a time one meme at a time one status update at a time one FB rant at a time. We sit in our living rooms liking each other’s social media posts and feeling like we’ve accomplished something, while healthcare for millions dries up right before our very eyes.

They don’t think you’ll vote. They think you’ll keep fighting Bernie and Hillary… will you?

Reductio Ad Absurdum

That’s bad, right? Here’s what’s worse:

We now have reduced our arguments to this:

The Ol’ Pussy Grabber has successfully blunted our interaction to mindless memes, stickers, and gifs. We don’t even exchange ideas. We don’t consider the other side. We see something we don’t like, it is all #FakeNews, #Snowflake, #ButtHurt. I’m done here. #MicDrop.

Never reference a mic drop without including a gif. Unfortunately, my connection keeps timing out before my Obama mic drop gif will load. I’ll update it when I have a better connection.

So and So Destroyed… Click Bait

We see headlines filled with click bait, Second Grader Destroys Representative at Town Hall. Click on it, and it’s a girl holding a sign saying you’re stupid. Ranting at someone is not destroying them. You cannot destroy someone unless you have engaged them in an honest intellectual exchange of ideas and demonstrated the errors of their ways. By refusing to engage each other and refusing to be willing to change your mind, we are simply exchanging the same memes, stickers, gifs, and hashtags. They are the same ones! The. Same. Ones. And, used to communicate the same message, I’m not listening, and you can’t make me. 

Motherfucker, this ship goes down, we all go down with it.

Social media surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the resistance together, but it will also allow the authoritarians to win because it so successfully hacks our brains and gives us a sense of accomplishment when we’ve actually done very little.

New Rule

This is the rise of the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid unless we commit to take action on behalf of our democracy! Every post, status update, tweet, social media whatever, include a call to specific action. Include phone numbers and links.

After you’ve called, use social media to encourage others, and let us hear about it back at the Psy in the comments!

Use these numbers and links:

  • Call My Congress: Uses your zip code to locate your Congressional Representative and your Senators. And, it returns phone numbers, tweeter handle, party affiliation, voting record, and link to C-Span appearances!
  • Call Your Rep: Uses your address to give you your representative and senators but with their local and DC addresses and phone numbers.
  • The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.

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