Ever since I got the internet, I’ve seen a bunch of people trying to wrap their brains around How We Got Here. Hashtags like #IsThisRealLife permeate the internet (which is sad that legitimate news agencies feel that there’s a story in #mansplaining) because no one can seem to see all the levels. Or, rather, no one can sum up in a few short words how we went from super-progressive to super-regressive in one election cycle.
So, for the next few posts, I’ll be talking about the various overlapping explanations of how a reality tv star ended up being President.
Let’s look past the obvious explanations of the Democratic Party rigging their own system (Bernie could’ve easily won) and the media dividing people on Obama (some outlets said Obama was after our white women, while others said that he’s probably what Jesus would’ve looked like if Jesus was real). Let’s also look past the obvious Republican Party rigging their own system (there were over twenty serious-but-still-inept candidates for president) and the casual voting attitudes of young “people” (you’re not a person ’til you’ve hurt yourself by sneezing). I want to focus on some of the less talked-about reasons.
Reason 1: Hyperbolic Speech
I’ve talked about this before, but no one seems to have gradated opinions anymore; there’s nothing nuanced. There’s no such thing as “I think I like the Reduced Fat Cheeze-Its better. They seem to be a little saltier.” It’s now “They. Are. AMAZING. Eating the regular brand is like eating a live kitten dipped in ground-up gefilte and dipped in wart removal.”
I’ll admit that hyperbolic speech is funnier; I’m sure you get more “likes” with “My Mother-In-Law talks to me like I’m the retarded offspring of Lemmy and Demi #hotgirlscantbesmart” than you do with “My Mother-In-Law is a peach.” But that isn’t how people actually think. Or at least it didn’t used to be:
I have a lot of faults, among them is the that I have no idea when I’m being rude. The Wife finds it endearing, but the rest of society doesn’t. So, I act as if I have manners – I study the rules of society and pretend I understand why, when, and how to use them (for instance, did you know it’s rude to show a co-worker that “ugly christmas sweater” with the boob-hole cut out? The notary public that signed the restraining order said it is) – and because I acted as-if, I’m now able to identify a lot of rude behavior.
This same phenomenon is happening all over the internet; people pretended to have extreme opinions about things because it stirred up conversations, got a lot of “likes”, and brought a lot of attention (and, in the case of media and other companies, it also brought money), but now this “acting as if they use extreme thinking” is becoming real. No one used to think Bill Clinton getting a BJ was a good thing, but at the same time, no one wanted him to get fired; now people compare it to rape. No one thought Ronald Reagan was a great president, but at the same time, no one thought he was awful either; now people compare him to Jesus. No one says “Bill has his personal faults, but he got a lot of work done, especially with the budget;” no one says “Ron was definitely a family man, but the economy was never as shitty as it was when he was in charge.”
So here’s what the election turned into: Clinton murders people on a daily basis; therefore she is evil. Trump wants to be a dictator; therefore, he is evil. It just so happened that more people in key demographics (I’m sure the gerrymandering didn’t hurt) believed that Clinton was more evil than Trump.
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