A lot has happened recently and I have a lot of thoughts so I just thought I’d get them all out because this is a blog after all. That’s what we do in blogs right?
First, some mildly personal details. I am a millennial. I went to a liberal arts college for a degree in a physical science. I have a lot of millennial friends (predictably). Statistically, most of them will be left or left-leaning. I think Pew Research has my generation as being like 80% left-leaning. This isn’t a research post or anything so I’m not going to bother with sources here. If I’m wrong with the numbers, so be it. It’s not the point. Anyway, most of my friends are left-leaning. Shoot, I once dated a chick I think is an anarchist today. She might’ve been an anarchist back then too. She said some… troubling things to put mildly. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with being left-leaning or anarchist in it of itself. I’m just noting a trend here.
Oh yeah. Before we get into the main article, I should make my position known. I’m socially liberal and economically conservative. Weed lmao and lower taxes amirite?
Fast forward to today and I’m still friends with them on Facebook. We’ve all been very vocal about the protests and riots because the whole country has been very vocal about the protests and riots. My position is fairly simple. What happened to George Floyd was an avoidable horror. I hope the officers responsible for it go to jail for a very long time. There are a list of reforms that I think would be beneficial for the police. Rioting and looting is wrong. Throwing explosives into cop cars doesn’t result in meaningful change. However, I seem to have found myself on the opposite side to that of my friends. Sorta, they’ve flipped a few times. Let me explain:
First, my friends said that the riots were justified. I tried to explain to my friends that rioting isn’t helpful. They said that the riots were an expression of grief, the “voice of the unheard”, and the means to an end. I disagreed and I disagreed with the justification. Then some word gets out that the riots may have been instigated by undercover cops or far-right individuals. So now my friends have flipped their script! Now the riots are bad. They have nothing to do with the protests. They’re just the results of right wingers trying to undermine the movement. It’s black propaganda now. But my friends don’t want to walk back their prior comments. So they still maintain their prior justification. The riots aren’t wrong because rioting is wrong, the riots are wrong because the wrong people are doing them. I don’t see why we can’t all agree that rioting is bad no matter who does it.
Second: The police. One more full disclosure here: my father is a police officer, so I may be a little biased. That said, I don’t think my position has any bias in it. So the riots have spread over the country and even over some continents. We live in the age of the smartphone camera. So all of these protests are being filmed. They’re being filmed from multiple angles with multiple cameras. And yes, there has been some very terrible footage to come out of these protests and riots. Now I am a skeptical person by nature. I am usually willing to entertain even some of the more unusual ideas. So when I see stories like “someone did this” I usually ask the question “what came before”. My skepticism is probably even more intense nowadays due to the polarized state of the United States. The left-right divide is so big I have to exercise more caution than usual and cross reference more than I feel should be necessary.
So one of my friends posts a short, maybe 10 second clip of the protests. It’s not their post, they shared it from someone else. The caption said something like “The police officer was fearing for his life, right?” In this video we see what is presumably a police officer and four or five people. Three people are on their knees, the others are standing with signs. In this clip, the person we assume to be the cop attempts to spray something right in the faces of the three people on their knees. The obvious conclusion the OP wants you to come to is that the cops are macing people for no reason. I had a few questions about the clip and I proposed an alternative hypothesis. Maybe the presumed cop was actually spraying water or some counteragent to a riot control agent to help the afflicted individuals. I never claimed to know what happened. I wasn’t there and neither was the person who filmed it (it was filmed from like a fourth-floor apartment). I just think that in these times people are very quick to come to a conclusion and asking a few questions just to make sure we’re not jumping too fast is healthy to public discourse. The reaction I got was… mixed. The friend who posted it was willing to entertain my hypothesis and that’s great, that’s why I posted it in the first place. Naturally others posted their opinions, some got a bit more into the ACAP territory but you get what you get I suppose. My concern here is that I find my friends are so willing to believe a video and a caption. I think that that’s dangerous and I think my friends have been caught up. I think they’ve been swept up in their emotions and their political leanings that they’re not always willing to hear a different perspective. I appreciate the main friend here because they really were engaging with me honestly. But most of my friends don’t seem willing to offer such a courtesy.
Last one here for this post: #DefundThePolice. So this was another interesting one that I saw play out in real time in front of me. This is going to be a bit more in line with that first anecdote I shared. When #DefundThePolice was trending, many of my friends were quite onboard with it and many of them still are. I’m not going to use the slogan but as I mentioned earlier, there probably is some argument in that funds designated for police use may not be being used efficiently. Maybe that money could be better spent elsewhere. Maybe where that money goes in the police could be shifted around for better results. Again, from the outset I was willing to entertain reducing the amount of funds the police have but I was worried that #DefundThePolice really meant #AbolishThePolice. We saw #AbolishICE earlier from a similar crowd of individuals. They didn’t walk that one back, #JustSaiyan. I raised my concerns of course and my friends assured me “no, no. Not abolish the police. We want to move funds to things like schools and hospitals”. Again, I don’t do slogans so I wasn’t down with it. This is where things get somewhat funny. The other day my friends started posting that we need to stop using #DefundThePolice. Why? Because it really did mean #AbolishThePolice and they wanted to change the slogan. Turns out most people thought #DefundThePolice meant #AbolishThePolice and that wasn’t polling well. So now we need to change the slogan.
As always, I think they could have avoided having a week of posts about #DefundThePolice that they now have to delete (or just leave up I guess) had they just exercised a little bit of skepticism. What does #DefundThePolice really mean. Who is pushing it. Why are they pushing it. But this is why the slogans are dumb. The labels are dumb. But the labels are also powerful. This is why it’s hard to get people to realize that you can oppose BLM because they promote things you disagree with but you can still be perfectly fine with black people. You can oppose BLM and not be a racist.
I don’t do the slacktivism thing. It’s June. My pfp is still me in a suit. No I’m not changing it. No I don’t have any problems with gay people. Yes I have allegedly gay friends but I’ve never thought of them as “My gay friends”.
Can I get tinfoil for a moment? Tinfoil time: I think slacktivism, or at least as it’s being used in the western world is a headcount. I don’t think that by doing slacktivism that you’re on a particular team. I think there are political actors that are using slacktivism to sort of gauge where people stand. It’s not that by doing slacktivism you’re on the team, rather than you’re showing your sympathies for a team. And when SHTF, prior slacktivism may indicate where you might side. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with slacktivism itself, I’m not going to do it. I don’t care if you do it. And a cynical side of me thinks that it’s being used for nefarious ends.
So where are we now. I don’t know. I’m still worried about my friends. I think that this tribalism issue we have in the United States is severe. A solution of course is for me to silently do nothing. To not voice my opinions when I have problems with my friends supporting things like violent riots. I don’t think this is a good solution. I don’t think I should bite my tongue because my friends are doing something I think is wrong. And I think it is a bad friend or even someone who is not a friend to be silent when your friends are doing what you think is a sin. I think my friends are being swept up in some emotional movement. I think my friends are signing up for more than what they think they’re signing up for. I think they should use a little more skepticism when someone comes to them with things like this. If my friends are signing up for it and they know it’s that’s OK. I don’t particularly mind nor care what political affiliation my friends have. I said before that I have very few if any friends who are not left or left-leaning despite my views probably being more of a libertarian-right individual. I think that despite disagreements we can enjoy the company of each other, enjoy the same hobbies, talk with each other and just be good friends. I like to think that I chose my friends because they’re good people and not because we both liked former President Obama. And I like to think that my friends feel the same way. I like to think that they wouldn’t be willing to terminate a friendship over disagreements like this. And I’ve been wrong a few times. Several times. This is exceptionally bad because it reminds me of cult behavior. When you’re in a cult you have to either convert or excise the outsider. And I can’t help but feel this emotional movement they’re possibly being swept up in is a cult. And I think it’s a large cult that can really affect the trajectory of the United States.
I don’t make friends very quickly. I’m quite the introvert. Every friend I lose, every friend that breaks it off with me I feel more intensely than I would probably like. And I guess my last worry here is for myself of course but I’ll say it anyway. I need to get my words out. Sometimes I worry that because I’m libertarian that the Overton window will shift past me and that my left and left-leaning friends will abandon me. Because I’m the outsider, right? And this is like 90-95% of my very few friends. I’m not going to join beliefs I don’t agree with because then I’ve killed myself. I’ve killed Artemis Hunt. I’m not going to be silent either because I think my friends are better than this. And I’m not going to stop talking to my friends because I believe that discussion is the way to change minds and rescue people. So what do I do?
I think I’m done here. If you made it this far, thank you. If you came from Twitter, I don’t have access to my Twitter account anymore due to not having the phone number I used to make it anymore. If you want to contact me, you can comment or email me. I guess that’s it. Thanks for reading.