So, probably like a lot of people here, Facebook has become part of my online landscape, and it's reconnected me with some old friends and acquaintances. It's been interesting to get a glimpse into people's current lives these several decades past high school, and in some cases we've had a chance to get together in person, which has been awesome.
Now, it's not like we were policy wonks as teenagers. I mean, we were all in junior high during the Watergate hearings. Politics was just about the last thing any of us wanted to spend our time on...well, this side of the Debate Club and Model U.N., neither of which was my crowd. So I don't know if some of the views I have been seeing pop up lately have been there all along, quietly, or if they've built up over time.
But among that segment of my Friends From Youth, every now and then I'll see FB posts like these:
"So-and-so just became a fan of John Boehner."
"Xxxxx just joined the group Proud Conservatives."
"Can this goat get more friends than Barack Hussein Obama?"
And, tonight, in the wake of the HCR vote, one Old Friend actually commented "This is how democracy dies...to thunderous applause" and continues to insist that it's all a "government takeover" leading inexorably to Communism, and that "the dems" will "try to blame Bush."
These are the utterances of people I don't recognize as themselves anymore. They've morphed into Fauxbots who fan Sean Hannity's FB page and post all kinds of the crazy.
What do you think happened? On the whole I don't comment on these posts of theirs - just let them go, as you might at the family dinner table for the sake of peace. (Though tonight I did challenge - with civility - one post which put forth the views of felon/fraudster Conrad Black as an accurate portrait of Canadian health care, a topic on which I feel I know a bit more than the average American these days.) I just find myself wondering what may have made people whom I remember as basically reasonable come to sip from the Tea Party's trough.
I can't honestly remember a time when my views didn't trend progressive. A level playing field and a decent shake for the middle class always seemed like common sense. Public education and access to social services logically made for the bedrock of a stable and competitive society. Trying to stick my nose into other people's bedrooms or churches or lack of a church? Rude and disrespectful of their choices and intelligence. And shrinking government down to nothing? Please. I like having paved roads, safe drinking water, national parks, and a fire department.
Liberalism was always the default, the sane position to hold, from my perspective. So now, to find people whose names and faces I know - rather than anonymous wingnuts on the Series Of Tubes - throwing around viewpoints at such a 180 from my own basic settings is perplexing and unsettling. Not to mention unexpected.
The closest thing to this, in my own life, was when my grad school roommate voted for Reagan because she thought he "was a nice man." (She has wised up, over time...)
If any of you have examples or insights from your own experience to share, I'd be grateful. I'm not about to de-friend anybody over there on FB just over politics, but I'm at a real loss to understand what has spurred some of these transformations. Surely the right-wing kool-aid isn't that tasty...?!