}

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Arthur Answers, Part 3: Political dreck

Today’s questions, also from Roger Green, are all related to political stuff, long one of my main interests. First up:

How do you keep from getting depressed by the political dreck? Do you think being in NZ has helped you survive Agent Orange more easily?

The second part is the easiest to answer: Yes, absolutely. I’m safe from the all the terrible things that Donnie will do to the people of the USA who aren’t rich oligarchs or plutocrats, and I’ll also escape the economic pain that ordinary Americans will feel, too—unless he really does cause a global depression, of course. Our freedoms in New Zealand aren’t in any danger, and we may even elect a Left-leaning government next year, although it’s worth point out that most Republican politicians and pundits would call our current Right-leaning government “ultra-Leftist”.

All of which is part of the answer to the first question: It is quite possible for me to close my eyes and ears and ignore what happens in the USA, immersing myself entirely in this country and this part of the world. There have already been times when this has been very useful, since it allowed me distance to calm down my anger or as a salve for emotional pain.

Internet meme, author unknown.
The thing is, I feel awful about what’s about to happen to my homeland, the freedoms that will be lost, the decades of progress that will be erased, the severe hardship that the poor, the working class, and the middle class will all endure in order to transfer more and more of their money to the ultra-rich. But there’s also pretty much nothing I can do about it from here. I have no choice, really, but to try and have a buffer, some space to keep my head and heart safe from the coming dark times in my homeland, and New Zealand gives me that. This is part of what keeps me from getting depressed.

I also use what’s basically the “unsent letter” strategy: I write about whatever I’m outraged about at the moment—and Donnie outrages me every single day, sometimes several different times a day—and then I do nothing with it. That allows me to engage in a full-throated venting to express my rage and pain and disgust without censoring myself in any way. Sometimes, I delete such raging rants, but even if I don’t, I also don’t re-read them. Their purpose is merely to let out all the negativity I’m feeling so I can let go of it.

Then, I focus on all that’s positive: My husband and our wider family, our furbabies, the awesomeness that is summer in New Zealand, the great community we live in—all that and more. Add all that up, and I can cope remarkably well—so far, anyway. But it doesn’t take away the worry.

Next, Roger asked:

That spate of hate crimes and harassment post-election: why are Trump supporters such sore WINNERS?

The number of reported Trump-related hate crimes and harassment has slowed dramatically, but the overall question is still valid. I think it’s mostly the arrogance of victory among the “alt-right” creeps, people who have been frustrated by having a president who opposed them, after succeeding a Republican president who didn’t enact their agenda, and a Congress that similarly ignored them. They truly believe that Donnie’s going to turn the USA into their white, heterosexual, “Christian”, cisgendered man’s utopia, and that’s an at least partially justified belief. So, because they think they're seeing their dream come true, they feel freed to engage in all the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, etc., etc., etc. rhetoric and violence they want. I think we’ll continue to see spikes every time Donnie or his gang do something against minorities, which they’ll do every time they need to distract attention from their corruption or mistakes.

Turning to the real world of Facebook, Roger asked:

What is your rule of thumb in how long you'll stay in a Facebook pissing match, and do you need to have the last word?

How long I’ll stay in a fight depends on whether I “know” my sparring partner(s), like if they’re “Friends” or friends of “Friends”, and whether I’m “discussing” something with one person or several.

If I know the other person(s) I’m “discussing” something with, I may engage for quite awhile. If I don’t, I usually try and limit myself to no more than a maximum of maybe five replies total, from both of us combined. This isn’t always a successful strategy, and I can get carried away sometimes, but it’s my goal.

I usually stop when I see the argument is pointless, that my opponent is being irrational, engaging in ad hominem attacks against me, using circular arguments, failing to provide any evidence to back up their opinions, etc. There have been several times in which a conversation like that went on too long and I deleted all my comments, making the other person look like some sort of deranged idiot raging into the wind. Earlier this year, I wrote about doing that.

This year in particular, I’ve become much better at simply walking away, starting with not responding in the first place (most common) to just abandoning a pointless argument. So, no, I don’t need to get the last word, and I’m even more likely to avoid doing so when my adversary declares I’ll try to have the last word—because I know that pisses them off by leaving them unsatisfied in their self-righteousness. Obviously that’s petty, but so are nearly all Facebook pissing matches, so it's in keeping with the ethos.

Related to Facebook, Roger asked:

Someone just wrote that he "rocked Facebook." What the hell does that even mean?

No idea, but it sounds like they were proud of their performance in one of those Facebook pissing matches. If so, it sounds like Danth’s Law in play. Other than that, maybe they promoted an event that many people took notice of or something. In general, I think that praising oneself for one’s actions on Facebook without the hashtag “#humblebrag” (or similar self-deprecating acknowledgement) would be a bit unseemly.

That’s it for today! There will be at least a couple more of these posts to finish up this series, but feel free to leave new questions in the comments. I can always do more posts, after all.

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