Sunday, August 23, 2009

The FOXification of debate in America

Facebook is pretty tame when it comes to viewpoints being shared. Most status updates will garner little in the way of impersonal or inflammatory replies through the "comment" link or the simpler "like" link. Most of the blogs I read regularly will often collect those sorts of comments in the hundreds. So when status updates start to become heated replies to previous status updates you know that a change is occurring. Two days ago I saw this on a friend's status update,

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care and no one should go broke because they got sick. Pass it on."

I did pass it on by making it my status and the comments piled up like never before for me. Most of the dialogue was polite and for the most part focused so that we could work WITH what the others had said and not just spew talking points at each other. It heated up just once and that was enough.
That was Thursday morning. Since then bunches of people have updated their status with something identical or at least similar. And then today, this update from a former campus minister:

No one should die because they are waiting and waiting and waiting in line for rationed medical care, and no one should go broke because they have to pay for this 10 TRILLION dollar deficit.

I guess I could say something like, "you reap what you sow" or "all's fair in love and war." Really I could say anything that properly groups both statements together as of the same category. But isn't there an edge in the reply that is not in the initial statement? Yes we both are using FB for more than it was intended but that is really not the problem with our debate. It's just that now what has developed over the last twenty years -- When was Rush Limbaugh first on the air? -- is now the norm. Advocacy triggers blatancy. And sweet little Facebook is not immune.
So I guess my next status update will be to apologize for opening FB the door to "debate" American-style.
But there must be more to this response than my apologizing for awakening the giant. Otherwise the "village" will never live with the truth but only continue live in fear of some romanticized version of it. That's why there are scapegoats to take sins we'll admit away so that we can then assume without losing power a righteousness/purity/safety that is not only undeserved but in many ways illusory.
It takes denial fueled by talking points displayed in 'all caps" to avoid the real dialogue for which even some FB updates dare to hope. And all the while the truths behind the ideals are waiting and waiting and waiting for enough time and energy and patience and courage to be fully heard. Why are we so afraid that we will not agree to take the time, turn down the rhetoric and listen to the truth?

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