There has been a total breakdown in communication between conservatives and liberals. Perhaps it is more accurate to say between the “awake” and the “woke,” or the Red Pilled and the Normie. We are separated by an abyss, a fact that becomes most obvious through online interactions, when your third grade violin teacher makes a comment on your Facebook post and then your former landlord’s son decides to reply, people who would never and will never meet, because they don’t run in the same circles, but here they are on your Facebook page, trading links and hitting the “laughing emoji” on each other’s comments and generally being nasty and sniping at one another.
Over the summer, I had to deactivate my Facebook account for 40 days and 40 nights after a “conversation” about Black Lives Matter degenerated to the point where my brother’s friend from elementary school, a self-described anarchist, told a former colleague of mine to “go suck a bag of d*cks.” Yikes! Why do I continue to “talk politics” with people online and “share” things of a controversial nature when I know full well it is the equivalent of pulling a pin on a social media grenade? Prone as I am to stirring the pot, I am also motivated by something like a hope in humanity, a belief that we are all prone to reason, and with enough information, anyone can see the light, and with enough goodwill, even the most ardent of political opponents can find some kind of common ground. I am beginning to doubt that.
I think it has something to do with a breakdown in language, or the politicization of it. George Orwell knew more about this than I, so I won’t try to explain it, but I thought I might try to illustrate it. As I was teaching “Jabberwocky” to my students this week, I was thinking about Lewis Carroll’s use of neologisms. Perhaps certain terms these days have become ineffective signifiers because they carry too much cultural baggage. Just utter the words “systemic racism” and half the country will tune you out; utter “deep state” and the other half mentally shuts down. So I thought I might take the approach of writing a dialogue and removing specific “trigger” words which upon their utterance tend to shutter the mind, and replace them with words of my own invention. The logic of a language is in its grammar, after all, not its definitions. So here is my attempt to illustrate our current state, as I see it, inspired by my recent online conversations with “Normies,” written in such a way that people from both sides might actually be able to see the problem. One can hope.
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Beegolum: I value tolerance and compassion above all. The problem is, we all live in an echo chamber and suffer from confirmation bias. I like to have conversations with people who think differently from me, who have different backgrounds and experiences. Like, this summer. I invited all of my booncie friends over to have a “circle of trust” with my wooncie friends. We wooncies sat in a circle at the feet of the booncies and the booncies spoke to us of their personal experiences, how those personal experiences had informed their views of the world, and affected the way they see things. It was enlightening, life-changing, really. I feel like my journey of personal enlightenment is just beginning! There is so much I don’t know.
Tiddysat: That’s great. I agree: It’s important to try to understand where other people are coming from, especially in this time of division. In the end, there is more that unites us than divides us. We just have to remember that.
Beegolum: So true! So let me pick your brain about something, because we go way back, and I know you’re a good person, even though we don’t always agree on political matters.
Beegolum: I read today that Presidoo Houcian truncled the Gooberjackels with the whatsodibits and floahooied the Sikums. I can’t understand how anyone can’t see by now that Presidoo Houncian is a flossing yokuss!
Tiddysat: Yeah. I can see how that might be flithering. Where did you hear that?
Beegolum: In the flitherdigibbits. We can’t stand for this! We need to string Presidoo Houcian up by a meat hook! Anyone who thinks otherwise also needs to be strung up by a meat hook! Flockin fascsimiles!
Tiddysat: So, here’s the thing: I don’t personally see Presidoo Houncian as a “van flossing yokass,” though he is at times a yahoo duncio.
Beegolum: Explain! I literally cannot understand how you are not flithered, as I am, by this story! How can people can support this orange-gooshamered fascsimile? I can’t understand where your’e coming from!
Tiddysat: Well, I don’t necessarily “support” him, but here’s how I see it: I read that the whatsodibits weren’t really yokel, and the Sikums, per floy, cool nay per deckum. You see, the Gooberjackels in the past se juggernatum. And the “floahooied” Sikums were not actually flaohooied, but instead they sicto flahooied the Sookums. Both eerie say plasto. So…
Beegolum: Wait, wait. Where did you hear all this? Because I’ve read all the flitherdigibbits. That’s all I do all day long is read the flitherdigibbits. I’ve read the purple flitherdigibbits and the blue flitherdigibbits and the orange flitherdigibbits and the yellow flitherdigibbits and the green flitherdigibbits. They all same the same thing: Presidoo Houcian truncled the Gooberjackels with the whatsodibits and floahooied the Sikums! Who could contest any of that? These are facts! All this nonsense about the Sookums — I’m not buying it. What do the Sookums have to do with it? That sounds like conspiracy theory.
Tiddysat: I just sent you a plink.
Beegolum: [Pauses to look at it.] This isn’t from the flitherdigibbits!
Tiddysat: Yeah, I know.
Beegolum: I’m not going to read that.
Tiddysat: Why not?
Beegolum: Because it’s not reliable! Who even wrote this? [Clicks into plink.] Jostus Finnian? Who’s that? Just some random dude on the Internet.
Tiddysat: Well, send me your source.
Beegolum: [Growing flithered.] I’ll send you ten sources, and they’ll all say the same thing!
Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink!!
Tiddysat: [Scans plinks.] All ten of these sources are from the flitherdigibbits. But I’ll overlook that for the moment. [Clicks into one.] It looks like this one was written by a guy named Weir Crenshaw.
Tiddysat: Who’s Weir Crenshaw?
Beegolum: I don’t know. Read his byline.
Tiddysat: So he’s just some random dude?
Beegolum: No! He’s a journalist. For Flibberdigibit Today. You might have heard of them. Been around for, like, 100 years.
Tiddysat: What does a journalist do?
Beegolum: Interviews people, reads and researches things, attends press conferences, investigates things, finds facts, reports on it so we can all be informed about the world around us.
Tiddysat: Yeah, that’s what Jostus Finnian does.
Beegolum: Ha! Jostus Finnian could never get into a press conference! He doesn’t have the credentials!
Tiddysat: Well, he doesn’t need to. If he wants to know what the politicians and CEOs and military generals and NGO’s have to say about what they’re doing, he can just read the flitherdigibbits or press releases put out by those particular institutions and organizations. Finnian is more interested in finding out what they’re actually doing, which they don’t always aim to admit in press conferences.
Beegolum: Sounds like conspiracy theory.
Tiddysat: Do you believe that people in positions of power are always upfront with the people, that they only have good plans, are motived solely by altruism, always do the right thing and always tell the truth? If that were the case, why would we even need journalists?
Beegolum: Well, if Finnian were any good at journalism, he’d get paid for it and have a job at the flitherdigibits instead of peddling conspiracy theories on the Internet.
Tiddysat: I think Finnian spent a large part of his career in the Navaheo Fleetum. I think now he’s a comptoobor by day but he also writes and makes videos. His past experience gives him credibility in my mind. I find his analysis interesting. Does Crenshaw even have any experience outside of the flitherdigibbits? Look, I’ve been reading Finnian for years. I wouldn’t recommend him if I didn’t think he was more or less reliable. He knows his stuff. You should check it out.
Beegolum: Uh, no thanks.
Beegolum: Because if what you say about the Sikum and the Sookum and Gooberjackels is true, I would have read about it in the flitherdigibits!
Tiddysat: I think that’s an erroneous assumption. I know there is a lot of garbage out there online. But there is a lot of garbage in the flitherdigibbits too. Hardly anyone trusts the flitherdigibbits anymore, because they’ve been wrong so many times. There are entire ideas, stories, issues that they won’t even touch, and when they do “go there,” it’s so superficial and biased that it seems like propaganda and disinformation. A lot of people think they are just mouthpieces for the Establishment. So they don’t read them. They get their information from elsewhere. I’m not saying don’t read the flitherdigibbits. I’m just saying: Don’t limit yourself to reading only the flitherdigibits, because if you do, you’re getting a very limited and I would say biased view of the world.
Beegolum: Oh, you think your sources are unbiased? I just looked up the website that Finnian publishes on! One media watchdog site labels it “far right” and it is classified as “mixed” when it comes to being factual. You are just reading stuff in your own echo chamber.
Tiddysat: In part maybe that’s true, but the thing is: I didn’t need a media watchdog group to tell me that. Go to the top of the website. Do you see a big banner that says: ANTI-STATE, ANTI-WAR, PRO-MARKET? So it’s pretty clear where they’re coming from. Are the flitherdigibbits that transparent? But here, I’ll send you a plink from a different source. It talks more specifically about the Gooberjackels.
Beegolum: [Looks at plink.] A NewTube video? Are you sheeshing me? Thanks, but I don’t get my news from NewTube.
Tiddysat: NewTube isn’t a news source. It’s a medium. It’s just a way of communicating. If Flitherdigibbit Today had a channel on NewTube, I think you’d probably be willing to watch it.
Beegolum: Yeah, because they have journalistic practices and protocols and standards that require them to have legit sources. They have teams of people to do fact-checking to make sure their information is legit. They can’t just say anything like these yokels.
Tiddysat: Well, you said you wanted to know why some people are not be totally flithered by the story that Presidoo Houcian truncled the Gooberjackels with the whatsodibits and floahooied the Sikums. I’m trying to explain it to you: There is other information out there that causes some people to doubt that the story, as it is being told, is 100 percent true. There seems to be more to the story. I’m trying to share with you some information that I learned that makes me see that story in a different light, that puts it in some context.
Beegolum: Fake news!
Tiddysat: How can you call it “fake news” when you haven’t even listened to it yet?
Beegolum: [Rolls eyes. Presses play.]
Tiddysat: You’ll like this: You see, there are a lot of screenshots of headlines, most of them being from the flitherdigibits. So all he’s doing is compiling them in one place. He does speculate about possible connections between them, but he makes a good case, and the news stories themselves are real. And he includes links in the video that point to the primary sources were he got other information that leads him to ask certain questions, like government documents, scientific reports, articles in medical journals, and organizations’ official documents. For example, the WHOOFEL has a whole website where they publish their plans and agendas. Most people never read that stuff, don’t have time. But he reads it and reports on what’s in there and he links to all of it so you can confirm it for yourself. I’ve looked into it a bit myself. I think the questions he raises are worth asking.
Beegolum: He’s clearly pro-Gooberjackel. This is completely biased. I don’t have time for this.
Tiddysat: Well, no one’s entirely objective. I think that’s where you err with regard to the flibbgerdigibbets. But a little subjectivity doesn’t bother me as long as no one is trying to conceal their opinions or agendas, and it’s so easy to separate the facts from his interpretation and commentary, because he has so many links to his sources. And by the way, he does make money doing this. People find his information and point of view so valuable that they independently support him with donations.
Beegolum: I don’t want some dude’s “interpretation” of the world. I want just the facts, thank you very much!
Tiddysat: It’s a forty-minute video and he links to about fifty different sources! Now look at Crenshaw’s article in Flibberdigibit Today, on the other hand. I don’t see any links to sources. Not one. Most of it is white space because there are no proper paragraphs and it’s about 450 words long. The rest of the page is ads. There is very little content here. Think about that for a minute: How free is he to report on what he wants to report on when he is beholden to the company’s advertisers or other sources of funding? There’s no way to see where his information is coming from. It appears to just be coming from anonymous sources and government officials. Like here, in this article called “How Americans Came to Believe in Sharpiegate,” he gives ninety percent of the article’s attention to quoting the election officials.
Beegolum: What’s wrong with that? They’re the ones who know how the elections actually work.
Tiddysat: Well, if there was something fishy going on, would the election officials immediately admit to it, if they knew about it or were involved? Probably not. Sometimes people lie. Crenshaw didn’t do much digging. He just “reported” (i.e. repeated) the denials of the election “officials” and left it at that. He doesn’t even bother to get ahold of any of the witnesses who had firsthand experience and could testify to what they saw! He doesn’t interview any of them. They are left out of the story completely. That seems a bit skewed, doesn’t it?
Beegolum: Oh, please don’t tell me you believe there was election fraud.
Tiddysat: There is a lot of evidence to suggest there was.
Beegolum: WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?
Tiddysat: There. I just sent you a compilation of, like, 25 different videos that people made on Election Day showing the shenanigans going on: poll watchers who had to “watch” from 30 feet away, poll watchers being illegally blocked from entering the facilities where the counting was being done, election officials filling out ballots, undercover videos taken of people straight up admitting to the fraud and explaining how it was done. Setting aside for a second all of the statistical anomalies, and atypical election procedures like universal mail-in ballots, and sketchy counting procedures, and the fact that Booben was hiding in his basement for the entire year while Houncian was jet-setting around the country throwing rallies that looked like rock concerts, you know, setting aside all the commonsense stuff, these firsthand witnesses and their testimonies, they have to at least make you wonder.
Beegolum: But this is from AlternativeNews!
Tiddysat: Yes, it is. AlternativeNews didn’t create the videos, though, you understand? They are just compiling them. The videos came from all over the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, from all over the country. So, focus on the content. They certainly appear to be real people with firsthand testimony of what they saw on Election Day and in the days following. Doesn’t that at least make you wonder? Shouldn’t it be investigated? Have you seen none of this in the flibberdigibbets?
Beegolum: They are probably lying. I wouldn’t put it past AlternativeNews to create fake videos in order to undermine faith in the election. All these people were probably working with Presidoo Houncian.
Tiddysat: Who’s a conspiracy theorist now?
Beegolum: Presidoo Houncian did an interview with AlternativeNews before he was elected.
Tiddysat: Houncian granted many interviews to the flitherdigibits before he was elected, too.
Beegolum: But we know that the interview with AlternativeNews was a dog-whistle for racists and white supremacists and the alt right patriarchy.
Tiddysat: Did you know that Houncian did better among almost every single demographic in the election except white men? I know the flitherdigibbits have been trying to convince Americans that Houncian’s main base of support was white male supremacists. Does the outcome of the election make you doubt that narrative at all?
Beegolum: No. Back to the election. Where’s your evidence of fraud? Because I think it’s extremely irresponsible of you to be casting doubt on the election if you don’t have evidence. The flitherdigibits have been fact-checking every stupid “report” of fraud and showing it to be baseless. So where’s your proof?
Tiddysat: I just tried to show you.
Beegolum: Real evidence. Not some stupid videos from AlternativeNews. You probably believe that COVID is fake, too.
Tiddysat: Well, there are a lot of questions.
Beegolum: Like what?
Tiddysat: Like what?! Like where did it come from? What is the point of all of this testing? Why do they keep reporting on cases instead of deaths? Why shut down the global economy to prevent the spread of a respiratory virus that has about the same death rate as the flu? Why are masks being mandated now when they weren’t being mandated last year for flu season, or even back in the spring when the virus first started spreading, and especially when there is no evidence or data to suggest that masks prevent the spread of a respiratory virus, and when rates of infection are no different in places that mandate masks and places that don’t? Why is there such a rush to make a multibillion dollar vaccine when other treatments are effective, cheaper, widely available? Why is the military going to be involved in dispensing the vaccine? And, you know, all the creepy authoritarian measures they are taking like shutting down travel, entertainment, and all social gatherings, especially churches, locking people in their homes, requiring you to “show your papers” if you leave, implementing “contact tracing” and soon requiring a “health pass” to participate in society, using this as an excuse to do away with cash and implement The Great Reset, and of course all the devastating effects, like the eradication of small businesses, skyrocketing unemployment, depression, suicides, deaths from delayed medical treatment, to name a few. The cure certainly seems to be worse than the disease.
Beegolum: You’re an anti-vaxer!
Tiddysat: Not necessarily, but there are a lot of risks associated with vaccines and, as they say, rushed science is bad science.
Beegolum: They’re doing tests. So far it’s effective and safe. Trust the scientists. Read this.
Tiddysat: Psht! This is plink is from NonprofitNews!
Beegolum: So? They’re a reliable news source! That article says that the vaccine is highly effective and it is not dangerous.
Tiddysat: Why would I read anything NonprofitNews writes about the vaccine?
Beegolum: Why wouldn’t you? Only ten percent of their money comes from the government and the rest comes from independent listeners and organizations, just like that Josus Finnian guy.
Tiddysat: Read the note at the end of the story. It says: “Made possible by a generous donation from the Gates-of-Hell Foundation.” The Gates-of-Hell founder is the one pushing the vaccine!
Beegolum: So what! It’s not like he’s sitting in the editing room reading every article they publish. They still have journalistic freedom.
Tiddysat: Read that. It will explain everything you need to know about the questions around this vaccine.
Beegolum: Protect the Children foundation? I’m not reading that! That organization is just a bunch of conspiracy theorists and quacks!
Tiddysat: Remember when you said that you like to listen to people “speak of their personal experiences and how those personal experiences had informed their views of the world”? What if I told you that I’ve been reading the flibbertigibbets and AlternativeNews and the stuff put out by the Protect the Children foundation and many other sources of information for many years now. I received a lot of information from non-flibberdigibbet sources that just seemed, well, kind of “out there,” especially because none of it was even mentioned in the flibberdigibbets, or if it was, it was only talked about with total scorn and dismissiveness. But I’ve started realizing that almost everything these alternative sources have been reporting on for the past twenty years is all proving to be true, especially this year. I don’t believe everything AlternativeNews says or Jostus Finnian says or anyone else says for that matter, but going based of two decades of experience, when these sources have undoubtedly been proven right about so many things, while the flibbertigibbets have been proven wrong, I can say that I tend to listen to the people who have been proven right over and over again instead of putting my trust in sources that have lied and been proven wrong, over and over again. That’s one personal experience that has informed my view of the world.
Beegolum: Cool story. So you are a conspiracy theorist. Where’s the evidence of fraud?
Tiddysat: Does the evidence have to come from the flitherdigibits?
Tiddysat: Then I can’t provide what you’re asking for.
Beegolum: No evidence! You have no evidence! I can’t believe you listen to fake news and I really can’t be friends with someone who would support what you support. Maybe after Booben gets elected we can be friends again and have some kind of reconciliation, but only if all of you admit that you were wrong and apologize for being wrong and for supporting evil!
[Walks away screaming into the night]
I just CAN’T UNDERSTAND how people could have voted for HOUNCIAN! How can they THINK that there was fraud in the election? I DO NOT GET IT! I can’t understand how anyone can’t see by now that Presidoo Houncian is a FLOSSING YOKUSS! How can people be so oblivious to an obvious reality? We can’t stand for this! We need to string Presidoo Houcian up by a meat hook! Anyone who thinks otherwise also needs to be strung up by a meat hook! And anyone who supported him needs to be strung up by a meathook! Floockin fascsimiles!