Monday, February 10, 2014

The Thing I Love Most: A Follow Up

This past Saturday night, I posted a "status update" over on Facebook.

Then, being the recycler that I am, I repurposed the status as a short, late night post here in this space.

You can catch up, here.

What I intended as a, sort of, off hand observation turned into a, I don't know, experiment, maybe? Or a bit of social media performance art? As of this writing, nearly 50 friends have "Liked" the post, and illustrated the diversity I was talking about.

And, I never expected the comments section to be one of the most interesting conversations I've seen on one of my Facebook threads.

(If only I could generate this much lively comment activity here on the blog. *ahem*)

One comment over on the FB thread jumped out at me and, I felt, needed a more complex answer than would comfortably fit in the narrow confines of a Facebook comments thread.

(Oh, who am I kidding? I saw the opportunity to squeeze another blog post out of the original status and to drive some new traffic this way. So, sue me.)

I'll call the commenter "James," because, well, that's his name.

Aside from two of my sisters and one cousin, who I have known, pretty much, my whole life, James is the person on that thread that I have known longer than anybody.

James was my art teacher in junior high and high school. And, he played an enormous role in launching me on the career path that has brought me to where I am today.

Which has nothing to do with the question he asked.

Referencing my inclusion of "conservative and liberal" friends who "Like" my posts, James asked...
"...I question you, "How many conservative friends click "like" on your posts"? Are they conservative, or are they being sarcastic?"
The simple and obvious answer should be...

My conservative friends don't "like" my political posts.

The posts that my conservative and liberal friends tend to agree on are posts...

                                                                           Like this.

But, in truth, the answer is neither that simple or that obvious.

The real answer takes us on a fascinating journey into the ideological mind set.

I have found that, if I post something that is a broad-brush indictment of the evils of conservatism or the infantile credulity of the "Tea Party," my right-wing friends will not "like" the post. They may comment and argue or just ignore it. In a few cases, they may "unfriend" me, doing me the favor of never annoying me on FB, again.

But... (and this is where it gets interesting...)

When I break the "liberal agenda" into simple, single points...

Such as, supporting education or not letting poor children starve or paying working people a living wage...

And in a lot of cases, even such wedge issues as marriage equality, reasonable gun laws, immigration reform or reducing abortions by providing access to contraception...

My conservative friends (with a few extreme exceptions) will "Like" right along with my liberal friends.

And they will post comments along the lines of, "On this, we agree!"

Weird. Right?

The thing that I have observed among working class conservatives is this...

They tend to choose blissful ignorance. They boast that they "...don't pay much attention to politics."

What little they know of politics they glean from the sound bites they hear on the news, the occasional chain email, what they hear in church, (they tend to be fundi-evangelicals,) or what their buddies at the coffee shop say.

They avoid things like fact-checking and critical thinking. It's just too much work, because, they just, "...don't pay much attention to politics."

They are capable of digesting and agreeing with single points, but when presented as a whole, they are forced to confront their basic ideology, and that sends them into a panicked "fight or flight" mode.

I suspect that we liberals could be guilty of similar ideological self-preservation.

But, I'm not willing to confront that.

Bottom line...

I think that most working class conservatives believe what they believe and vote against their interests because it is just so much more comfortable for them to maintain their ideological status quo.

It is just so much easier for conservatives to fear the liberals, the Democrats, and Obama, than to recognize and embrace the fact that they are not who they have always believed themselves to be.

1 comment:

  1. I know that both sides are guilty, but it seems to be more common on the right. You hit it!