Conspiracy Theorists

I have some people on my Facebook newsfeed that believe we are constantly being lied to, about literally everything. Some call them “Conspiracy Theorists” I call them “uneducated rednecks,” because that’s the lot I see most frequently. Yesterday there were two people that made me consider deleting my Facebook account. One suggested that while they believe the Coronavirus is real, they don’t see it, know anyone who is sick, and therefore has deduced that we are being lied to. We are “Sheeple”. Then the post ended with a plea to not be judged by their beliefs, like they won’t judge others for theirs. There is so much wrong with that I don’t know where to start. You will be judged. I will judge you. So will so many others, because when you share stuff like this you put lives in danger.

Listen to me. As it sits, we have more cases of Covid-19 in a four county clump here in Georgia, than the entire state of Missouri. I love you Missouri, but y’all some absolute nutcases. Out fishing in lakes, boating, basking in the sun like it’s vacation time. You know why you don’t know anyone who is sick? Because you don’t leave a thirty-mile radius of your house. You are only friends with people who look and live like you. White people. Rednecks. Other conspiracy theorists. Middle-class. People who own a damn boat. You know what kind of people don’t own boats? The kind that are dying from Covid-19.

Look it, I don’t normally sit back and idly let people spew hatred and misinformation. Yet that’s just what I did yesterday. I stopped myself from commenting on any of the posts. Especially the one that I’m about to share, because what it boiled down to was a mean-spirited attempt to put a value on human lives depending on where they work, and how much they are paid, and whether or not the mass collective agrees with the poster, in order to what? Feel better about oneself? Put down a whole group of people (in this case nurses who are actually working the frontlines of this global pandemic right now). I’ll share what the post said now, but know that I’m paraphrasing:

“Is anyone else really mad that they are paying nurses like double their salary to go to work, and giving them hotel rooms, and discounts like on Starbucks and Crocs, but the military only makes like $2,000 a month while they are overseas being shot at? I mean, are there even really videos of inside hospitals? Do we even know how it really is?”

Ummm. Yes. Yes there are videos. And a cursory search would find you more videos, says my husband, than you can stomach. Also military men and woman are compensated when they go overseas. It’s called Hazard pay. And it’s on top of their salaries, and their housing benefits, free food, and their healthcare. On top of other things, like signing bonuses, discounts on gear, tax-free money, and tax-free duty shops, discounts at many places around the country (including fucking Starbucks), etc. And if that’s what you are really mad about (I too think soldiers deserve more money in war-time and much better mental healthcare upon returning) than vote for people who will make that happen. But, in this instance it’s comparing apples to oranges. It’s misdirected anger. And I suspect it’s a lot more.

What that poster tried to do was belittle a whole group of women and men, but why? Well, science tells us fear, and a hint of jealousy. But I’ve been there before, so angry and misinformed that I accidentally show my lack of critical thinking also, so at first I thought to give the poster grace. But to berate people who are actually out there saving lives, makes zero fucking sense to me. And the more I though on it, the more troubled I became. This person isn’t alone in their backward, asinine way of thinking.

We are a country that cannot think outside ourselves. We cannot think past the very tippy, tip of our noses. We can’t think past what we can see, and we don’t see much. We don’t care to. It’s better to stay in our safe, little 30-mile radius and use essential oils to thwart all that ills us. Stalking behind computer screens, spinning up conspiracies to suit our agenda, and hocking actual lies and utter nonsense.

Also, some people just like drama and “likes.” Lest we not forget that. But when we look at the bigger picture we see how lop-sided this “argument” (if you want to call it that) is. Soldiers know what they are signing up for when they sign up. They know the perils of war, nurses on the other hand, don’t intend to get themselves into a war with death everyday, but it has happened this is where some find themselves today. They are walking into hospitals without the correct equipment to do their jobs. They, unlike the military, are not being funded by the government (and God forbid they come from a state our president doesn’t like). They are risking their own lives everyday just like the men and women on the battlefield do, and yes they should be compensated, like the military. Fortunately many of them work for private-sector so they can be compensated much better than government employees, but again, that’s a choice someone makes. The military even gets free college! And if you ask me, I’m all for nurses and other essential health care workers having their student loans wiped free after this is said and done. Or free college for people who want to go into the healthcare industry, I mean the people who want to be doctors, nurses, surgeons, etc, not the people who call themselves “Healthcare workers” but shuffle papers for the doctors and nurses all day. Those that are actually saving lives everyday. Those are the ones in our world that should be commended. Because not all heroes wear camo, nowadays our heroes are wearing lab coats.

This poster also said we were being lied to. That everything we read has to be fact-checked, meanwhile this poster shares sources that are obviously inaccurate and the poster shared a screenshot of the “nursing benefits” with no actual source. Hmm. Perhaps the poster is just bummed that they aren’t a nurse? Or that nurses are getting more attention now? Or they aren’t able to get free Starbucks? If I send them a Starbucks gift card will they feel better? Stop being cold-hearted? Think a little more?

Because there are actually people dying out there. And I’m sure their loved ones don’t want to read about how you think the people taking care of their dying father is “paid too much.” Meanwhile, what does it have to do with you? And why share something like that, unless you are jealous of the attention nurses are getting, sad that you aren’t someone who can actually save lives, or just a mean person who doesn’t think before you hit “share”? I mean, are there any other reasons to say things like that?

It seems to me to be a mixture of so many things. It’s basic human nature, sure. It’s fear. It’s that feeling of not being in control and needing to lash out at others. You know, bring them down to where you are. Then there is the mental health issue.

If you are told you can’t leave your house except for essential reasons and your mind immediately goes to the idea that our government is trying to control what we do, then you suffer from a mental illness. Probably a host of them. If you hear that nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic, who are using the same medical masks day in and day out, who lack the equipment to do their job properly, who are putting their lives on the line everyday to help, are making more money than you, or getting to sleep a straight six hours in a hotel room and take a shower without possibly infecting their families, and that pisses you off, there is some mental illness there. And a hateful heart. I hope that God can speak to your heart to soften it in some way. Because I’d hate for you, or someone you love, to need the attention of a nurse after you’ve made comments like that. You should absolutely be ashamed of yourself. But we aren’t, are we? We aren’t ashamed of what we say on social media. It’s our right. Our God-given right to share our hate-filled rhetoric with all those who will read it and hopefully agree with it, and hopefully “like” it so we can get the attention we so desperately seek.

Yes, people are this crazy, y’all. And I’m obviously very tired of it. I’m tired of reading half-cocked conspiracy theories that trickle down from our actual president. Then those same people say things like, “sheeple” and “lift the veil” meanwhile they are just touting what they’ve heard on Fox and Friends. What the what?!

People are crazy and don’t understand that hospitals that are empty right now are a GREAT sign. That’s what we were hoping for. We are hoping that you don’t know anyone who is sick, that social distancing worked. That we flattened the curve. That nurses with no work to do is awesome. Nurses with no work to do, and who are going to places where there is more work than can be handled should be paid more. They are going into actual battle zones, willing to risk their lives to help others. Meanwhile, you and I are sitting on Facebook bitching about each other. Way to go, us. How great are we? At least I’m supporting those helping. Trying to make sense of the senseless. Donating money. Asking how to help. Sharing the stories coming from healthcare professionals working the frontlines. What the actual hell are you doing?

M.

#UsingHashtagsDoesntMakeItFactual #HowManyHashtagsDoesOnePersonNeed #ThisWontMakeYouFamousOrABetterPerson #Unfriend

My First Internet Troll

Okay, let me start this one off with a little backstory. Y’all know how I get sad and listen to Adele? When I’m sad, and listening to Adele, that’s usually the time I partake in internet comment sections. What do I mean by internet comment sections? You know when USA Today, or WaPo, or The NY Times shares a story and then people comment on said story, usually without reading the actual story, they are just knee-jerk reacting to the headline, well I knee-jerk react to the comments people make. Listen, it’s not wise, there are a lot of assholes in the world, but when I’m “Adele sad” I want to make others miserable with me. Hey, I’m only human. So rather than making people I know and love take the brunt of my wrath, I do it to strangers. Although, even as I myself troll on these days, I keep it nice and I keep it civil, in hopes, always, that I am educating or helping someone see with a bit more clarity. I’m not, for example, getting on the comment section and calling people a slew of names or calling them “snowflakes,” or “Whiny babies,” or “The racist, sacrilegious, extreme right” even though that’s what most of them are, and I myself am usually called names like, “Snowflake,” or “Socialist,” or my personal favorite, “Libtard.” Eww, y’all.

So there I am one day, sad and alone at home, Adele blasting out of my HomePod and I come across an article. I can’t recall where it was, but it is about the boys in the MAGA hats who tormented the Native American veteran last year in Washington DC. It is specifically about the boy who wore the brunt of it because he seemed to be the instigator of it. If I remember correctly there was a lot at play that day. Several groups protesting several things, and the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran who I believe had been trying to deescalate a confrontation between the MAGA hat boys and a group of Black protestors who were protesting against Donald Trump. The Native American Veteran saw an opportunity to help and he stepped in. Which worked, because the Black men walked away. But then the MAGA hat boys surrounded the Native American Veteran and started yelling slurs at him and being general juvenile assholes. This part of the story has been pretty well re-told by all those involved.

The story I commented on was not about that. It was about how the one boy’s parents, this boy,

He just looks like a ball of fun, doesn’t he?

sued CNN for defamation or something, and they won some money. But I mean look at these kids. They were obviously disrespecting this man, who was trying to help them not get their asses whopped by much bigger dudes. I remember when it happened, and I remember thinking what pieces of shit raised these pieces of shit. I also remember thinking that the Black protestors needed to slow their role, I mean who gets into a conflict with kids? Then I remembered the world we live in and yeah, I want to punch this kid in the face, so there’s that.

Okay, back to the story. So there I am sitting at my desk listening to Adele tell me about her lost loves, and I’m sad, and I come across the article that says he won money and I know this comment section is gonna be lit, so I take the bait.

First thing I see is a woman calling for THE WHOLE USA to apologize to this poor boy. Le sigh. I scroll. I scroll. I start liking comments of level-headed people who are making sense. Someone says, for instance, “I hope these boys learned a lesson. I hope they treat veterans better.” I like it. I see, “I hope this young man’s family uses some of that money to help others in need, veterans, the homeless, I hope they spread goodness from now on.” I loved that one. You see what I do now.

So then I start reading the really nasty ones. The ones that make no sense and have nothing to do with the article. The ones blaming Hillary Clinton, what? The ones saying that “TRUMP IS ALL OUR PRESIDENT!” Like, no shit dude. We know this. The ones who are literally just there to troll. Now, this was during the standoff with Iran a couple weeks ago, when “Military Draft” was the number one thing Googled that week, so a few people were talking about this Native American guy being a Veteran, and saying this is what a real Veteran looks like. Tempers were high, y’all. I don’t remember exactly what I commented, but on one of the “This is a fine example of a Veteran” posts, I said something like, “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” Or something like that. Essentially I suggested that young men, ones who are this pumped about our country (I remember when this all happened, some of their parents came out and called their young sons “Patriots” for standing up for the President) that they would join our troops in supporting this country for all of us who cannot. That was it, that’s what I commented: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love of country, join the military.” End scene.

But, oh no. The trolls were on me like me on a bag of Cheetos. First someone told me the draft didn’t exist. Which made me confused. I said, “I’m aware. I’m suggesting they join willingly. Our military needs good, strong, young men at this time.” Then someone told me I should join. In which I said, “I’m both over the ‘weight regulations’ and ‘age regulations.'” Besides, I never felt “called” to fight for our county in that way. Though I have many friends and family members in the military, and I love and appreciate that they did feel called, and I feel safe because of them.” Then I left it at that.

That’s when people starting chiming in on my weight. This was my profile pic at the time:

Obviously I’m super fat. And obviously I’m a commie-libtard. I have a fucking poodle for Christ’s sake.

Most of it was “She can’t join the military, she’s too fat.” Which I had already addressed, but you know, people. So as you can see, the conversation was going great places. Lots of learning was happening, blah, blah, blah. So I decided I’d do what I usually do, I’d mute the conversation and go on about my day. I’d made my point, even though they didn’t “get it” and I felt better having supported some people who were fighting the good fight with knowledge and love. So I bowed out, as I usually do. I said something like: “This has been an enlightening conversation. May I think you all for your relatively smart dialogue and remind you, in this time of great divisiveness, that we all have the power to change our neighborhoods, our communities, and the world.” I have a schtick, I say basically the same thing every time. Then I add, “I’ll be muting this conversation now, try to keep an open mind with others.” Then I muted the conversation and went on with my life.

Then two days ago I was sitting at a Starbucks writing, and I remembered that I wanted to send a friend a DM to ask a question, so I logged onto my Messenger App. I rarely do this, but there are some people who I only converse with through this app. So I logged in and I had two messages that were marked as unread. Turns out that if you aren’t friends with a person on Facebook, they can send you a message, but you won’t get notifications about it, and you can’t open a dialogue with them unless you accept it. I clicked to see who the messages were from. There was a woman whose name looked oddly familiar, and a man who I didn’t know at all. I read the woman’s first. It was a woman from one of the poodle sites I frequent. I had joined the site when I lived in Charlotte and it still showed Charlotte as my home. She became aware of a poodle that needed rehomed in Charlotte so she remembered me and reached out. I thanked her, because that was very nice, then explained that we didn’t want another dog at this time, but to continue to consider me in the future. We had a lovely chat about poodles and said our goodbyes. Then I logged into the other message and saw this:

I went back and forth about whether or not to use his real name and picture on my public/private blog, but the thing is, I didn’t do anything wrong, he did. He’s an internet troll who took the trolling one step further. I don’t even remember him from the thread. But apparently when I refused to respond anymore to the comment section he sought me out, clicked on my page, and sent me a message. And he did it in the most Trump-Supporter way I’ve ever seen. I mean never mind the fact that this white man thought that he had the authority to seek me out and “put me in my place” but you guys, this spin doctor could work for Fox News! He’s been programmed to take a comment: “I hope these young men, who obviously want to show their love or country, join the military.” And turn it into “You’re quite something for wishing death on a bunch of kids for wearing hats supporting the guy who won the presidency.” Now, let’s do what all my English professors would be proud of me for doing, let’s break this sentence down.

“You’re quite something,” okay well he obviously is already angry. And we all know that anger stems from fear, so what is fearful of? Could it be that a woman could be as smart as he thinks he is? Maybe he’s afraid that I’m right. Maybe he’s afraid that we are in fact going to war, and he isn’t joining the military and he really wanted to and couldn’t. Or he was too scared to even try, so this all hits too close to home. Too close to his man-ego.

“Wishing death on a bunch of kids…” This is a great tactic the GOP has been using for years. You take a comment, and you strip it down to the bare bones, then you think about how you could make it sound absurd, thereby making the speaker sound absurd, and you spew the new comment that you made into your head, at the speaker like they said it, hoping they will believe that is what they really said. It’s been highly effective for the Republican Party and you can see it any day you turn on Fox News.

“…who won the presidency…” This part shows his insecurity once again. Two reasons: 1. I never talked about Trump in my comment, just about the the kids and the military, he brought Trump in, and in a sense, Hillary Clinton, which they LOVE to do. Then they accuse us of “not being over the election.” Hmpf. He knows, like we all do, that Hillary won the popular vote. More people in our country wanted Hillary to be the president than they wanted Trump to be the president. In fact, she won by millions, y’all. But I don’t talk about that anymore, cause it doesn’t’ matter. But these Trump supporters live and die by this idea that we all sit around and commiserate about how sad we are that Trump won. Nope. We don’t, just so you know. But when you bring it up to us, we do make fun of you because you are projecting.

“…you’re so full of hate…” Projecting. I mean, this man came to my page, clicked to message me, just to tell me this last line which I assume he thinks was the real kick to the gut, so, umm, me thinks he’s the angry one. I’m just sad, remember? Adele? The shithole upside down world we live in that has men like this in it? I’m sad, y’all.

The kick to the gut: “maybe you’d be happier if you lost some weight.”

Real quick: Fat jokes lose their steam in middle school, y’all. We are adults.

So, my first instinct was to delete and block. In fact, I blocked him for about thirty seconds. Then I thought, if I don’t reply I will be angry about this. I will stew. I will sit and think about all the things I could have said and it will make me sad and I will listen to more Adele, thus perpetuating the cycle. So I unblocked him and I wrote this:

Then as you can see, I blocked him. Then I alerted Facebook to him being a “Harasser” and now I’m sharing it with you all. Mainly because I gave you a brief on FB and y’all wanted me to blog about it, so you are welcome. And thanks for your support. For reading my blog. For loving a good story. And more importantly, thank you to my friends and family who, while we may not agree on everything in this world, can still be openminded, and kind, and who will always go to bat for me, because you know I will always go to bat for you. In fact, please let me know if you ever have an internet troll. I would love to take care of them for you!

So what is today’s lesson, y’all? Don’t be Brad. Also, don’t go searching for him on Facebook. Don’t send him messages or be a crazy person like he is. Instead remember that there are people like Brad in this world. They are perpetuating meanness. They are led by fear, insecurity, a hatred for women, first and foremost, then usually people who don’t look like them, pray like them, or vote like them. They are the extreme, y’all. Most of us are in that humane middle. But the guys like Brad up there, give all Republicans a bad name, and if you are a Republican it’s your job to silence the Brad’s of the world. And it goes both ways. We can’t let crazy leftists stand up for all Democrats, we can’t give them a platform. Only then can we eliminate this sort of hate and bigotry.

Be kind, y’all.

M.