It’s difficult to know where to start. Do I start with the story, the pinpoint in time from which the drama unfolded? Do I start with the tweet, the reaction, the verbal beatdown? Or do I start with some other, unknown point, the feeling that somehow allies are being asked to make dizzying and untenable choices, over something that will blow over in time?
Sometimes, I feel that, by having less experience in politics, less education in journalism or history or some other subject, less fiery passion when speaking on the subjects that others do — that these are signs I’ve taken the wrong turn. That I don’t belong here in this space, in the conservative blogosphere. Maybe that’s true.
But even someone who doesn’t have the background many others do knows something about people and their actions. One can learn about honesty and deception, about motives and desires, without spending a lifetime around politicians. And from that study, it’s clear that it isn’t always the words and actions which people in power say and do that discourage their fellow Americans to fall out of love with activism and with staying active in politics. Or political writing.
Often, it happens because of the words and actions of those who write about and engage with those same politicians and activists and their world. They poison the waters and make it unhealthy for many others to thrive and desire to remain a part of it.
What I experienced on January 20th on Twitter, surrounding Chuck Johnson’s story about Holly Fisher, made me want to leave politics entirely. Not just the GOP, or conservatism, or whatever term you like. I’m not exaggerating. It was that bad.
I used to think that the way Twitter shortens the English language was largely responsible for the communication problems that happen there. But I started thinking differently, after that day. The problem isn’t how many characters people have to talk with one another on Twitter. It’s how they choose to use that space.
But it does seem that, in teaching ourselves to communicate in smaller and smaller quarters, in tweets and Facebook messages and smart takes on our blogs so that the attention deficit crowd will bother to read it, we’ve stunted our ability to relate to one another as human beings. We’ve made it more difficult to intuit what someone really means, and why they say what they say.
Essentially, we’ve become distrustful and questioning of the motives of those who think differently from ourselves – even by the most minute of degrees. We make tribes and teams, and no amount of common sense will bear understanding among them.
Enough people have written intelligently about the controversy – the story at the center of Johnson’s expose. You can find a few options in the Related section below, if you’re interested enough to sift through them.
But that leaves me with the unknown, and with feelings — mostly, those I’ve expressed. As I said in a short rant on Twitter on the 20th, we make a mistake to think we can read the hearts of those we don’t truly know. We err when we think we are the authority on how someone else ought to live his life – someone whom we assume to know all about, but we do not know the first thing about them.
I fear that this trend will only get worse, the less we depend on long-form and in depth forms of communication. Face to face conversations, phone calls, letters and emails, books. More misunderstandings, more recriminations, more division and distrust will mount. And our culture and our lives will be diminished as a result.
It’s important, while we still have time, to look at ourselves. We’re better than this. At least, I think we are. When I was invited to write about this political world, only a handful of years ago, by R. Stacy McCain and Jimmie Bise and many others, I was excited that there was space for my voice.
Isn’t that why many of us started writing, blogging, podcasting? The right side of the sphere has more space for more, and different, voices. They aren’t always voices we recognize or even agree with all the time. But we at least respect them, while the left doesn’t.
It would be amazing if we could remember to expect that –sometimes — voices that are coming out of the unknown will bring something wondrous instead of something to shun out of fear. You might just be surprised.
Note: This post was written before Johnson published his article on Dana & Chris Loesch.
IJReview/ Woman Known For Making ‘Liberals’ Heads Explode,’ Was Discovered Having an Affair Last Year
American Power/ Holly Fisher, Army Wife and Conservative Hottie, Busted for Infidelity
The Other McCain/ Well, This Happened
With Bias/ Sex, Lies And A Real Problem