The Twitter Bubble and the Culture of Outrage
Over the last several months I've been checking out of the political chatter on Twitter more and more. It seems like every day there is a daily outrage that dominates the Twitterverse. A reporter said something stupid. A President tweeted a photo of a silly looking man in a onesie. A debate on the race of Santa. A reality TV star (or cook) makes in-eloquent comments. A reality TV star (or cook) gets fired. The outrage du jour is exhausting.
After seeing the responses to President Obama's tweet of ObamaCare propaganda with "Pajama Boy," I'm convinced that Democrats are using creepy or weird photos for the specific purpose of whipping conservatives into a frenzy. It's to take our focus off the only things that matter (jobs, ObamaCare, 2014 elections). Instead we spend our time sharing photoshopped memes and making snarky comments. Sure, everyone can insist they don't really care, they just think it's funny. But we're still spending time on it. Also, when real outrage happens, those in the middle are told by the Left and the media, "There they go again! Remember when they said Obama was Kenyan? Or when they were outraged by a man in a onesie? They hate everything Democrats do."
And people will believe them. In the movie Charlie Wilson's War, Gust, the CIA operative, says "As long as the press sees sex and drugs behind the left hand, you can park a battle carrier behind the right hand and no one's gonna f**king notice."
I think we're "the press" in this case and Democrats are building a battle carrier to keep the Senate in 2014.
Make no mistake, both sides are guilty of being the boy who cried "Outrage!" In the case of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, A&E gave into calls from GLAAD and others on social media to take action. Now conservatives respond with more outrage and the cycle continues. I don't agree with Robertson's characterization of gays or think the tone of his comments help the Christian cause. I also don't think he should be suspended. I do think A&E can suspend anyone in their employ. It's a business decision, but I think it's very stupid to make business decisions based on people who are not your customer or potential customer. That's what they did. (Side note: This is NOT a First Amendment issue. A&E is not the federal government. Make your case against them in a more informed way.)
For those (like me) who use Twitter regularly, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking Twitter is real life. As a writer who wants to promote my posts and forthcoming book, Twitter is invaluable. It's great for sharing information. Just this week I shared the address (courtesy of Honor Flight DCA Volunteers) for a WWII vet who was in hospice and feeling down this Christmas, most likely his last. I asked people to send him a Christmas card to brighten his day. Twitter responded in full Christmas spirit. Nearly 500 people retweeted my call for action. Two people sent him a Christmas tree, one sent flowers and countless others said they were sending cards. It was awesome and I hope to collect more addresses so more people who are alone during the holidays can get cards next year.
Other days I am overwhelmed by the outrage of the day that dominates Twitter chatter. I feel like conservatives may lose the big fight because we're focused on these distractions rather than the battle carrier on the other side. Every single issue doesn't need a platform or call for action. Why can't someone just say "Phil Robertson could have made a better case for Scripture. I like the show, so that sucks that he was suspended." Instead we're always out for blood. The Robertsons will be fine and once the dust settles, A&E will allow him back or the show will be picked up by another network. This will not ruin his life or career. And the next time some liberal says something, we'll also demand he be fired in the name of speaking out against double standards. At the end day, there has to be right and wrong. Not just "they did it, so we can do it."
This brings me to the Twitter Bubble. I fully recognize that I'm in it. All this Twitter outrage and focus on small matters could be clouding my judgment on what conservatives are really doing to combat the Administration's agenda and to win in 2014. So, I'm going to take a break from Twitter. I may still tweet a link to a post I write or wish a friend happy birthday, but I'm not going to get myself worked up over conversations I don't think represent real life or real issues. Instead, I'll talk to family and friends this holiday season. I'll spend my time with them and be fully present with them. I'll find out what they're doing to cope with ObamaCare and the terrible job market. I'll spend time cuddling Auggie, my "God-dog" I'll be watching during Christmas. I'll decorate my first-ever gingerbread house with my mom. I'll ring in the New Year with a new friend. And after Christmas, I'll continue working with organizations I think are making positive contributions to the only political goal we should have for 2014 -- taking back the Senate.
There's an entire world outside of the Twitterverse. Here's hoping it doesn't disappoint.