Thursday, December 22, 2016

These days

The video above is from Yahoo News, and posted to their Facebook Page to mark the final month of the Obama Presidency. It’s a nice video, but it attracted negative comments. Of course it did. These days, people can’t NOT say negative things, it seems, not when there are total strangers who must be told how wrong they are.

I shared the video on the AmeriNZ Facebook Page, and said:
“This is a nice video. I'm not interested in hearing anything negative about President Obama in the comments. If you can't say anything positive, then don't say anything at all, because negative comments will be deleted. Seriously. I'm one of the people who will miss the Obamas, and this is NOT the post to debate him or his legacy.”
I wrote that aware that when it comes to President Obama, certain commentators feel they’re required to tell Liberals/Progressives how stupid we are for liking the Obamas, how ignorant we are of “the facts” about President Obama, and how the country will be “better off” without them. Yes, rightwingers said all those things, but that wasn’t what was in my mind at the time: It was Leftwingers.

Lately I’ve seen leftwingers—the people I call “on the Leftward side of Left”—exhibiting the exact same behaviour as people on the Rightward Side of Right: Irrational, neck-deep in conspiracy theories, fact-free, anti-intellectual, absolutist and fundamentalist, aggressive and belligerent, and absolutely without any willingness whatsoever to consider the possibility that they may be wrong—but with an all-consuming drive to tell other people how wrong THEY are.

Such people—Left or Right—are nothing new, of course, and this year the infamous “Bernie Bros”, and later Green Party activists, were the most obvious examples on the Left. I didn’t and don’t frequent sites or Facebook Pages where such people hang out, so my only exposure was accidental, or through Facebook friends who who have Facebook friends like that. Frequent use of blocking on Facebook has helped me reduce the noise from them and their identical twins on the far Right.

But we shouldn’t HAVE to put up with this! We all know that there are people who disagree with us, but we do NOT have to tolerate people being dicks and beating us over the head with their contrary positions. Maybe it’s too late to restore any sort of civility, but whether it is or not, we don’t have to accept such behaviour as normal or acceptable.

So, because of that, I made the comment I did when I shared the video, and the comments left on it were ones I agree with; so far, no one has left a negative comment. I’ll admit that, good Liberal that I am, I hesitated before being so firm in my instructions. But, then, the most belligerent Far Lefties and Far Righties too often ignore social cues to be restrained, so I thought being direct was best. I also felt it was only fair to warn would-be commenters that I’d delete anything negative—not for the Grumpy Brigades of the Left and Right, but so that those who share my admiration for the Obamas could feel safe in making a comment knowing I’d protect them from harassment.

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I value discussion, even when it’s robust and passionate. And, in another context, I’d be happy to debate the worth of President Obama’s many accomplishments, etc., but this video just isn’t the appropriate context for such a discussion. It was a chance for those of us who would rather have four more years of President Obama than a single second of the Orange Menace to reflect on what we had.

An activist friend of mine observed recently that President Obama makes him want to redouble his efforts and to continue fighting to preserve what we’ve accomplished, and to expand on that in the future—to keep moving forward, in other words, despite everything. If I can help encourage more people to feel like that by posting a simple video and banning negativity, that’d be awesome. The real world is harsh enough, and has few brakes or controls to ensure civility. In the spaces we build, we have the right to do as we choose, and I choose to enforce civility whenever necessary.

These days, it seems, enforcing civility seems to be a growing necessity.

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