So yesterday, I posted a pretty harsh criticism of people on Facebook, and I want to do two things: 1) apologize, and 2) explain.
1) I’m sorry I used the term “bastard,” and if you felt personally attacked, I apologize for that too—my rant was directed at the collective response of people in general, and no one person in particular. I hope you can forgive me.
2) The gist of what I said is that it frustrates me that people don’t like, share, or respond to my blog posts, because they respond to a lot of other stupid, worthless shit, and my blogs, at the very least, fall into that category. And though it’s pretty pitiful in terms of internet popularity, it does have over 210,000 hits in a little over a year and a half, so at least some people read it.
So why don’t people respond? I infer it’s for one of three reasons: a) they don’t read it/don’t care, b) they disagree with my politics, but don’t want the confrontation, or c) they agree with my politics, but don’t want to be political on Facebook, thereby inviting confrontation.
Ultimately, that means that many people, in general, that say they’re my friends on Facebook, are either apathetic, cowardly, or both. Now, why does it make me mad—to the point of being a public asshole—that my collective group of Facebook friends are apathetic and/or cowardly when it comes to politics? For one, because I know firsthand that you’re all really smart people, and we need as many smart people involved in politics as possible. Two, because it’s an indication of what people are like in our society, and that means we’re in deep shit.
See, I’m not sure people remember this, but ‘merica is a DEMOCRACY—technically, a representative democratic republic, but a democracy nonetheless. And in a democracy, we need an informed and involved public that’s able to make difficult choices; a public that understands the issues of the day, and that cares enough to vote, contact their elected officials, protest, advocate, debate, discuss, etc.
Unfortunately, people that are apathetic/cowardly can’t or won’t do these things, and that threatens the strength of our democracy, and consequently, our nation. Indeed, it threatens the quality of each and every one of our lives.
Now I know what a lot of people say: one or both parties is awful, one person can’t make a difference, there’s too much money in politics, it’s my right not to care, I don’t have time, etc. But the problem with all of these excuses is that they take away your power as a citizen, and they take away our power as a People.
Because the surprising truth, is that We, the People, have tremendous power, if we would just seize it. Every year we get to vote on ballot measures that become law, as well as who represents us in government, from the local school board to President. And every single day, we have the power to contact our elected officials, protest, advocate, debate, discuss, etc. Yes the two parties are doing a shitty job of running the country and a lot of politicians are corrupt; yes there’s too much money in politics; yes it’s hard for one person to make a difference alone; yes it can be hard to find time… but all of those obstacles can be overcome.
The hard truth is that we get the government we deserve to have; if everyone was an involved, active citizen that voted in every election, discussed and debated the issues once a week—especially with people who challenge us—contacted our elected officials once a year, and chose just one cause or policy to advocate for, our government would be much more responsive. And think of all the wonderful, modern tools we have at our disposal to help us: the internet, smart phones, apps, social networks, online newspapers and magazines, hell, even friends on Facebook that take their time to write blogs about a wide range of issues, etc. We have more access to information that can help us be good citizens than ever before!
WE CAN DO IT! We can make our government, and the politicians that run it, listen to and do the things we want them to do, because ultimately, if they don’t listen to us, WE CAN GET RID OF THEM. But we can’t hold them accountable if we’re apathetic about politics or too cowardly to stand up for our beliefs.
Another hard truth is that our political situation is not bad because we have bad politicians—our political situation is bad because we’re bad citizens, because we’re too apathetic, too cowardly. Too few of us care enough to get involved, and many others don’t have the guts to have difficult conversations with people that disagree with their political beliefs.
And the problem with a democracy where apathetic/cowardly people aren’t paying attention, is that corruption begins to spread, bad policies get enacted, justice disintegrates, and REALLY BAD THINGS HAPPEN THAT AFFECT EVERYONE.
Consider the last financial crisis. It could have been avoided if people had been paying attention. It could have been avoided if people had just used common sense. But people had their heads in the sand, and as a consequence, every single American took a financial hit—especially people who owned homes. Worse, we’re still so cowardly and apathetic as a nation, that none of the people who were most responsible for that crisis, who we the taxpayers, bailed out—the CEO’s, hedge fund managers, and Wall Street bankers—none of those people are in jail.
And think about this the next time you drive your car across a bridge: one in nine are rated as “structurally deficient,” and the average bridge in our great nation is 42 years old. But Congress is so dysfunctional and lazy they won’t appropriate any money for infrastructure repair or replacement. And not too long ago, 13 people died and another 145 were injured in Minnesota when, surprise, surprise, a bridge collapsed.
But few people seem to care. They’d rather waste time “liking” stupid shit on Facebook, Tweeting nonsense, taking vain pictures of themselves to post on Instagram, staring blankly at their television, or playing games on their smart phone.
And that’s why I got pissed. Frankly, it makes me fucking furious just thinking about it. I’m not saying don’t enjoy your life, or spend every second freaking out about politics—I certainly don’t. But for goodness’ sake, pay attention enough to know what the hell is going on. Have the courage to stand up for your convictions. Stop making excuses for being a shitty citizen. Because if too many of us put our heads in the sand, or run the other way when confronted with uncomfortable truths, REALLY BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN THAT AFFECT EVERYONE.
Oh, and please, read my blog, like it, and share it. If you disagree with what I say, write a comment—it can even be anonymous—I don’t care. Or if you want to be even ballsier, send me an op-ed of your own; I’ll publish it, under your name or a pseudonym.
Or don’t. But please, please, please, start paying attention, and stop being afraid. For my part, I’ll try not to lash out like a big baby in the future.