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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THIMK! Brexit, Mad Magazine and MEMES


I had a teacher once in high school who had this printed on the chalkboard all the time. I didn't really understand at the time, not being around for the THINK slogan from IBM in the 50s and not being a fan of MAD Magazine, or the subsequent THIMK Magazine. But it was still effective and I did always try to think before I spoke. Research a bit if I wasn't sure.

This post is about politics, sort of, so get out now if you're easily insulted. I say "sort of" because it's not about the candidates running for President in the US. It's not really even directly about Brexit.

But it IS about an epiphany of sorts. Okay maybe not an epiphany. A realization? A light bulb moment?

Social Media SUCKS! Not in every aspect of course, but in the political arena? Absolutely SUCKS!

I've always said that if you did your research, if you were thinking for yourself, if you knew the reasons WHY you backed a particular candidate, or supported a particular party, then I respect you. Whether or not we agree about anything, I respect you as someone who thinks. We can agree to disagree. We can have discussions. But if you believe something vehemently and have no idea why? No respect at all. If your support is based upon a collection of idiotic memes on social media and you can't give one reason why you believe what you do, other than spouting insults and getting mad and calling people morons, which is NOT a discussion by the way, then GO HAVE A SEAT.

But here's what happened to me for the past two mornings over coffee. As usual, I scroll through Facebook. Laughing at cats with brain freeze or Chewbacca Mom or looking at vacation and wedding photos of my friends. That usually includes gorgeous photos of Scotland as I follow a lot of Scotland photography pages.

I love Scotland. I've made no secret of it. Even my DNA test shows that I'm SO Scottish. I love visiting. I can't count the hours I poured over articles and tier levels for visas and all the requirements, which I can't seem to meet so I could move there. I'm also sort of obsessed with all things British. I don't know if anglophile covers all of the UK or not but I am one for sure. So naturally I do see things on Facebook from time to time about Free Scotland and Brexit.

Naturally I don't offer up an opinion because I am not educated on politics in the UK. And I don't live there. But I couldn't help but form at least precursory opinions on it. Was I rooting for an Independent Scotland? Yes. Because I don't know all of the implications and consequences. I only remembered what I learned in history classes.

So now, naturally, I tend to, being as uneducated on Brexit as I was on an Independent Scotland, root for a vote for the UK to leave the EU. Save your angry emails. I've already said I realize the extent to which I am in the dark. And my opinion doesn't matter one whit. I. Don't. Live. There.

I saw an article a friend liked and it was all about how the only smart thing for the UK to do is to vote to leave the EU. I read it. I "liked" the page it was shared from. I wondered a bit about the ins and outs and consequences and if they were worth it and wondered how I'd feel if I lived there. And I went on about my day.

This morning, however, I woke up to my feeds absolutely flooded, because I "liked" that one pro-leaving page, with memes and articles and graphs and charts and rhetoric about why anyone who votes to stay in the EU is an absolute brainless moron. You know I've just finished clicking on most of them and reading what appeared to be well thought out, reasonable reasons. Clever memes were abundant. Just like the US. Just as "absolute." Just as cut and dried. Just as persuasive.

Thing is, in the US, I AM educated on politics in general and specifically, I've made sure to educate myself on the candidates, such as they are. I've lived here my entire life so I know the history and the rhetoric and the "party-line" and everything that goes with it all. Well, to the best of my ability. I believe I have the ability to see the overall picture, not just through a knothole in the fence, but on a ladder, overlooking the fence. The bigger picture. And it takes me less than 2 seconds to see through the stupid memes and seemingly convincing numbers on graphs and charts.

I shake my head in disbelief at some of my "Facebook friends" and so-called educated people who not only fall for, but pass along the most ridiculous things on Facebook. They rant and call people names. They threaten to unfriend people. And it's so obvious they have no idea what they're on about and couldn't answer even the simplest of questions as to why they believe what they do. I think HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? To seemingly educated, intelligent people?

Well, now I know.

I'm not all that. No one is going to mistake me for Einstein or Hawking. But I try to learn. Every day.

And a precursory look at the flood of "information" in my feeds this morning taught me something very important. Two things really. And may have helped me understand a little about HOW people get so easily sucked in. 1. People are lazy. 2. Uninformed people are easily manipulated.

Now I have no clue whether leaving the EU or remaining is best for the UK. My feeds suggest leaving is the ONLY WAY. But I know how skewed that is. And as I read the articles, I was basically convinced they were 100% right. Because I haven't done my research. Because I didn't check their sources. Because "it all sounded right." I did have alarm bells going off in my head though. I knew, deep down, that I couldn't be lazy and just believe whatever was in my feeds this morning.

What I want to know is WHERE ARE THE ALARMS in the heads of all these people in my feeds every day posting political memes about the election here in the US? Are they just too lazy to research? Are they just indoctrinated from childhood?  Conditioned by the media? Or are they more calculated, sitting back to see what "the majority" thinks - what bandwagon the hipsters and "cool" people hitch up to - before deciding what "side" they're going to be on. From what "pulpit" they will look down on the mass ignorance and at whom they should shout insults?

I'm now at the bottom of my pot of coffee so I'll bottom-line it quickly: EDUCATE YOURSELVES before opening your mouths. Know what you believe and WHY. Be someone who helps not hinders. Do not be someone who is so easily manipulated. No matter what you decide to stand for, STAND for it or "you'll fall for anything."

Be aware of The Third Wave.



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