HarryTime: Social Disease

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. Harry is a resident of Logan and an alumnus of Utah State University. He can be reached via email at hacaines@gmail.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

“I hate you!”

— Anakin Skywalker, from the film, “Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge Of The Sith”.

When late night talk show host Samantha Bee referred to Ivanka Trump by a word of the most vile nature recently on her TBS show, it was not because Ivanka had maliciously kicked a puppy. Ivanka also was not accused of aiding the Russians in meddling with the 2016 election. And the daughter of President Donald J. Trump was not quoted as saying that if the poor are to die then they should do it and decrease the surplus population.

Ivanka’s crime was to post a photograph of her in a loving pose with her young child. That’s it. Nothing more.

Because this photograph was posted in the same week that her father ordered law enforcement agencies to forcefully remove children from their parents who were found crossing the border into the United States illegally, a Twitter mob decided that the most morally upright, dignified and rational way to oppose Donald Trump’s inhumane action was to show open hostility towards his daughter, despite the complete lack of proof that she supports her father’s actions on this subject. And even if she did, how skewed a sense of piety must one have to use a photograph of a mother and her child as a sounding board to hurl invective?

I do not like Ivanka Trump. I believe she is wholly complicit with her father in using the office of the President of the United States to bilk as much money for their family of grifters as they can get their well-manicured hands on. Because I do not like or support her, I never followed her on social networking. Others who do not like her do follow her.


Because in our current society, we use social networking to say horrific things to people we do not like. This is most profoundly experienced on Twitter. A multitude of politicians, entertainers, athletes and pseudo-celebrities cannot post anything on Twitter without a torrent of criticism being lobbed at them.

For many, there is a disjointed belief that typing excessively rude “mean Tweets” to famous people is somehow empowering. They do it more than once a day. In many instances, the surrility is aimed at politicians. The acrimony borders on rage. Scratch that…it is rage!

What makes this dangerous is that it is not just an exclusive club of public figures that are attacked. Recently, a teenage girl from Utah that wore a prom dress of Chinese origin was the target of an easily-offended, bullying, social networking rabble.

And the two-word term used to explain this behavior in news accounts has become a redundancy: Twitter explodes.

Yeah, that is the point of Twitter. It explodes with instantaneous, illogical and hyperbolic rage. Twitter exploding is as predictable as water being wet.

“I feel your pain” has now turned into “You caused me pain. Now I am going to plague your life”.

And Facebook is just as bad. It may be worse because it is bigger and more readily available to angry people.

This is our world. We use tech devices to indulge ourselves in sociopathic behavior sustained by a fanatical belief that we are in the right. We condition ourselves to see others with opposing views as evil. Calling them names on social networking is not only reasonable, it is nearly a duty in defense of what is right and true.

What makes this a lethiferous blow to reason and intellectual constancy is partisanship. Social networking is filled with people that defend celebrity avatars to their belief system whilst simultaneously excoriating others that did likewise, but are of a different ideology.

This is often called a moral equivalency argument. That is a misnomer. It is actually an immoral equivalency argument. Those that defended Samantha Bee denounced Roseanne Barr for referring to a black woman as resembling an ape. And Barr supporters looked at Bee as a double standard.

Here is a quirky thought. Both were wrong. Both should have been fired. If you disagree with that, then you have a stage four social networking disease.

Now, I know that some of you might find a magnificent irony in this lament coming from me. I crudely criticize people I disagree with in this space. Yeah, OK, but that is why I have this column. My schtick is to bring a counter perspective to the “Utah nice” too many opinion writers have in these parts. Read other columnists from different news sources in Northern Utah. You fall asleep before reading the second paragraph. Boring!

I come fast and I come hard. But I do not post this column on your Twitter or Facebook pages. When you see my perfectly round face on my column entries most Thursdays, you can scroll by. And if Facebook and Twitter ceased operations tomorrow, my columns are still uploaded on CVD; and they are still easy to ignore.

Social networking emboldens bad behavior by having few repercussions. Too many seek out things and people they hate so they can castigate them. It is too easy to be nasty. And I am done with it.

On Wednesday, I deleted my two Twitter accounts. I rarely go on Twitter. But just having them makes me feel dirty. To get clean, I must cut myself completely free from this truly cancerous platform. Done.

Shortly after this column is posted on CVD, I will link it to my Facebook page. The next day, Facebook is kaput. I will delete it.

I am keeping Instagram. I like looking at photos. And it is surprisingly easy to avoid the comment sections on that platform. I feel no negative reactions when I stare at pretty photographs on Instagram. I always feel miserable and confrontational when I am on the other sites. It has a corrosive effect on my soul to read what is posted on Facebook and Twitter. So, as I did with cookies, candy bars and donuts last month, I am just going to stop feeding on them. Bye-bye!

Maybe I cannot quit. I left Facebook years ago and came back. Perhaps my addiction is so pervasive that I find myself having a psychosomatic effect to disconnecting. If that is the case, I will reactivate Facebook. I will admit what would be obvious. I will face the reality that the sickness that currently is killing decency and unity in America is within me. I will once again be a part of the problem.

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