We’re living through interesting times. Everything seems up for heated discussion, and facts are treated as dismissively as opinions in public and private discourse. That’s problematic enough all by itself, but it gets much worse, y’all.
Have you noticed that the number of folks who seem to relish watching the world burn appears to be radically increasing with each passing day? I’m not talking about the people you probably think I’m talking about. It’s definitely 100% accurate that we’re living in uber polarized times, making crossing the aisle one of the least popular things you can do at the moment. But when I talk about people stoking fires and keeping everyone from having nice things, I’m not talking about the folks on the other side of the sharp divide that cuts across every single issue percolating at the national and local levels. I’m talking about the people supposedly on our own side, if such a thing exists. Because, sometimes, it seems like these motherfuckers are actually on their own side, and their objective is to perpetually cut you down to size before you even finish a sentence.
I’m talking about what I’ve named the Clapback Conundrum, a knee jerk response that’s become all too prevalent nowadays. It mostly takes place on social media, where all good things go to turn putrid and mind numbingly tedious, but it’s happening with more regularity during day to day in person conversations as well. We’ve all seen the eye roll-inducing digital headlines:
X TORCHED Y!
Z Was DRAGGED On Twitter!
X’s EPIC CLAPBACK!
TWITTER FLAME WAR BETWEEN X AND Y!!!!!
It’s exhausting. But, sadly, it’s not just for celebrities and politicians with heightened name ID. It’s happening every day, in every facet of life.
Now, to be fair, not everyone is living a life fully engrossed in policy, politicians, campaigns, and issues based advocacy, but still.
Can we just agree to stop this utter nonsense? Can we stop trying to start flame wars and instead focus on defeating the very real threat looming over our heads in November 2020? The clock’s ticking, y’all, and we’re burning daylight. In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re fighting for the soul of the country over here, not gathered in a circle on the recess playground while 2 kids play the dozens.
Listen, I get it. You think you’re right. And not just right, but Right, objectively, with an uppercase R. But, let me ask you this: Do you want to be right? Or do you want to make things better? Do you want to save this country from slipping into the depths of a darkness so pitch black that not even the glittering flame of you brutally torching some ‘lesser progressive’ would help you find your way out again? Because we’re fighting to improve the American way of life for hundreds of millions of people right now, and I’m going to need you to get a handle on your shit and cut out the friendly fire.
Here’s the long and short of the Clapback Conundrum: we’re so worried about calling each other out that we don’t pay attention to the nuance of arguments and policy, just who flames who. It’s lazy and it’s part of the problem. While you’re busy calling me a centrist shill because I favor a Medicare For All Who Want It plan and you think anything less than Medicare For All makes me a detestable sellout, we have the party in control of the Executive Branch and one chamber of the Legislature actively trying to rip healthcare away from millions of people. Shouldn’t we be focusing on that? Or do you want to keep trying to light me up because I disagree with the method of getting to the exact same goal, which is healthcare for everyone? Spirited debate is great, and I’m here for it every day all day, but don’t fight me to the death on particulars when we agree on the end result.
And, FYI, arguing on social media doesn’t equate to doing any actual work. You aren’t changing hearts and minds by lighting up your allies on distinctions that make very little difference. And, honestly, you don’t need to change the hearts and minds of the people who already agree with you. We’re standing on the same side, friend, for chrissake. Stand down so we can stand united on our shared values and create the change you claim you want to see in the world.
The next year and a half is going to be hard enough without needing to cover my six as well as the absolute disaster forever unfolding in front of me. We can agree to disagree on the method without attempting to destroy each other, resorting to dismissive name calling, or taking our ball and going home where we’re absolutely no use to anyone. This country needs fighters, champions, grownups. Can we do that? Because, if not, buckle in for another four years of this unmitigated shitshow and know that you own it.