As someone who has been both a politically active conservative and in the entertainment industry his entire adult life, the following is a scenario that repeats itself quite a bit.
I will be at a gathering with comedians, actors, musicians and various other showbiz types, many who have known me for years, when the subject of my politics comes up. It is usually someone else who brings it up because, hey, I’m at a freakin’ party here people. Upon learning that I am a conservative Republican, one of the people who doesn’t know me well but has been around me before will say, “But you’re fun.”
My standard reply for years has been, “Most of us are.”
For the longest time the truth has been that it is more fun for me to hang around people from my side of the political aisle than from the other because we actually are more enjoyable. We aren’t in a permanent state of aggrievement or victimhood, nor do we believe the world needs saving right this moment and we can do it if only we don’t screw up our bag choices at the grocery store. Throw in the fact that we’re not always searching for reasons to feel bad about being American and, yeah, there is a little more levity here.
Or there was.
I took a break from the social part of social media for Lent this year, posting only links to appearances and things that I had written, while ignoring all of the “chatter.” After breaking myself of the habit of automatically opening Twitter when I picked up my phone, I began to really, really enjoy it. I soon achieved the sort of inner calm one usually only finds by ignoring the warnings about mixing red wine and hydrocodone.
When I returned to social media I noticed that everyone was kind of…awful. I mean, old-men-who-ate-too-much-cheese-in-the-days-before-Metamucil awful. I noticed levels of curmudgeonliness so deep that even the twenty-somethings were running around in a “GET OFF MY LAWN!” fever.
Naturally, I at first attributed this to the fact that I had been away for seven weeks and people were merely having serious Kruiser withdrawals. After I had given everyone several fixes, however, they were all still hanging out at the corner of Vitriol and Angst. It occurred to me I hadn’t noticed before because I’d been afflicted as well. Prior to my Lenten trip to attitude rehabilitation, I too had been outrageously outraged while consuming generous portions of the outrage du jour.
I used to laugh whenever a progressive would say I was angry, because it was always just so much projection, as most of their complaints about us are. It would appear that the nastiness which permeates their politics and, more often than not, every aspect of their beings is contagious now. It’s like a Twitter-borne mood pathogen that is about to win a game of Plague Inc. in record time, drowning all of political social media up in a collective “Harumph!”
Lately it seems as if we fear that our time on this planet will immediately cease to be if we aren’t expressing anger at something from the political news cycle. Absent that, we’ll pluck things out of the ether, like complaining about Cinco de Mayo, bloviating about it “not really being a holiday in Mexico and blah, blah, blah, gripe, gripe, gripe.” It’s a bar party, people, and if eating a taco is cultural appropriation, don’t eat a taco.
Last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner was another prime example of our overwhelming desire to make sure everyone knows that HEY, LOOK HERE — SOMETHING I DON’T LIKE IS HAPPENING.
We know the press corps is horrible. We know their relationship with this president is sickeningly sycophantic. Did we really need to pay attention to the WHCD to know it would be unpleasant for us?
If two people you find visually and personally appalling tell you they’re about to make love in the mud, do you really need to watch to confirm that the whole affair will be off-putting to you?
Well, all of conservative social media spent the night watching the press corps and the president in the mud and complaining about it. Many told me they were merely having fun “mocking”. As I was already mulling the subject for this column, I paid close attention to the Twitter and Facebook action. It didn’t seem like mocking, it seemed like a bunch of unpopular kids spending Saturday night whining about a party they weren’t invited to. When I suggested something along those lines, I was roundly assured that they wouldn’t attend the party even if they were invited, which is probably exactly what the unpopular kids would say.
We don’t need to keep the world up to date on everything we don’t like. We begin defining ourselves only by negative things that way. We become pinched, bitter people.
We become them.
Sure, there are plenty of things to be mad about when it comes to politics in America. We don’t have to be consciously venting about them all day. We are not the twenty four hour news cycle, we’re people. We have some important work ahead of us but it would be nice to be able to enjoy the victories once they come. I’m not sure that can happen if we all become outrage addicts.
So rub some bacon all over your significant other and jump into a pool naked. Watch Blazing Saddles. Hug anyone who isn’t me.
Let’s just try to relax a little bit.
Let’s not become them.