Clique Bait


I have been glancing periodically around Facebook, and have been seeing all the negative posts. It’s an election year so this is expected to some degree. However, a particular subset of posts tend to grouch me up more than others. These posts usually show a picture of some kind, and end with the words “Share if you agree.”

I won’t share, and I don’t agree. In fact, even if I did agree, I still won’t share.

As a culture, we to want to identify with others. We tend to divide into groups, and this is good. But “Share if you played in the mud growing up, and didn’t spend all your time staring at your cell phone?” Let’s break that thought down for a minute. I’ll lean on my own experience here: I stared at books (cell phones didn’t exist back then) but I also played in the mud. It’s not an either/or situation. A person can be both. And this fact does not make me a better (or worse) person, if I happen to favor one over the other. You can enjoy two things, even if they conflict with one another. Our society is not so black and white as we want to believe it is. Answers in life do not come easily; they aren’t handed to us on platters. But I’m certain we won’t get anywhere by entangling ourselves in groups we form in vapid outrage over nothing.

I feel a deep-set resistance (and sometimes even anger) every time I see a “Share if you agree” post. In fact, I might have agreed to share a “share if you agree” thought or two, if I hadn’t been badgered into “share if you agree.” This is a tongue twister. From here out I will call them Share If… posts.

When I was a young man, I had lots of opinions. Now that I’m older… it’s true: I still have lots of opinions, but something has changed. I have learned when to keep my mouth shut. Asking my friends to “share if you agree” smells like arrogance. I’m generally not looking for allies in my opinions. I don’t have any particular need to locate the folks who “Played outside all day long and drank from the garden hose, and climbed trees andnothing bad ever happened, Share if you agree.” This isn’t church, and I am permitted, in life, to enjoy saints-who-climbed-trees right along side the non-tree-climbing brethren.

I can’t decide which particular facet bothers me so much about these posts. Each of them displaces a certain amount of thinly-veiled disdain, piled upon unearned opinion, piled upon personal preference. It’s like a dunghill entree,  on a bed of crap salad, with turd puree. From every angle, it’s disgusting, stinks of poo, and is inedible from the top down. Or the bottom up.

Heh. Poo. Bottom. I’m hilarious. Share if you agree.

I derive a large part of my disgust from Share If…. posts because they polarize people. When I don’t agree to share the person’s post, I’m having our differences pointed out in a crude fashion: “Look at my opinion! Sign onto this list to prove you agree with me! You didn’t sign on? Well, what kind of freak are you?”

And a Share if… meme gives you no option of politely declining. It is really saying “Share if you agree, and if you didn’t share, you must not have agreed. Which rates you on the scale somewhere between diarrhea cramps, and people who serve coffee for a living.”

Very recently a jury convicted a Stanford swimmer of rape. The judge sentenced the young man with a drastically reduced jail time. Immediately, accusations of racism, favoritism, rape-condoning all moved to the top of our Facebook feeds. “I stand with the victim. Share if you agree.” Well, yes. I am willing to say that, as a nation, we don’t condone rape. And a light sentence flip-flops the whole court process. And we really need justice. Agreeing with the Share if… throws me in with 100% of the population (or near enough), so what is the point? “We hate rape. Share if you agree.” “We are humans. Share if you agree.” The post should not insult me with a “partisan” argument that really hasn’t got two sides. They have a word for this: it is click bait.

I have a coworker who occasionally points past a new employee, and says “Wow! Look at that deer out there in the parking lot!” And when you (or the new employee) turn around, the coworker guffaws. No deer. “Made you look!”

A red herring argument is the guy pointing at a fake parking lot deer, and they are all over the Share if… posts. “Random guy did horrible things with guns and got his sentence commuted. And Democrats think NRA is the problem? Share if you agree…” . Yes, the guy did something bad. That’s a totally different argument than NRA’s problems. Red herring arguments lead to non-solutions. They are conversation stoppers. If you want to solve problems, pointing to a completely different set of problems is ignorant at best, and a cynical camouflage of your misdeeds at worst.

An old man in a picture held a sign in front of his chest: “My name is Vernon . I am 88 years old. I fought and served in World War II. I bet you won’t Share this picture.” You’re right. NOW I won’t. “If you don’t affirm me, I’ll take my ball and go home.” That’s fine. I didn’t want to play ball in the first place. And again, this is click bait. We appreciate 88 year old veterans, almost 100% of the time. Folks who don’t are in the VAST minority. Why would we remind ourselves of this?

There are so many other Share if… memes. A picture of a wooden spoon. “When I was young, this wasn’t just used for stirring a pot. Like and share if you agree.” What does that mean? It’s a spoon. And it paddled your butt. What exactly do you want me to agree with? That we should spank people with spoons? That I was part of the “elected” spoon whupp-ees? At any rate, it polarizes again. Those-who-are-spanked-and-proud, and everybody else. What is the logical extension the post wants us to reach? That spankings make us better? Possible, but debatable. But the post doesn’t want us to debate. It wants us to join a side. The post is gathering recruits for the spoon-spanked army.

Opinions are like gold nuggets. Sometimes you have to work hard to find one. And if you do, you are indeed a lucky person. But nobody wants you waving your nuggets around, saying “hey! Look at MY nuggets. Are your nuggets like my nuggets? Then we can be nugget friends! If you haven’t got nuggets, then leave. You don’t know what it’s *like* to earn a nugget.” Even worse are the folks who inherited their gold nuggets from their parents. “Look at my nuggets! See how smooth and perfect they are. They are nothing like your nuggets; they’re all lumpy and streaked and brown. Because my nuggets have tradition behind them! Nothing compares to my nuggets. If you don’t know what it’s like to inherit your nuggets from your parents, then leave.” Both situations make me queasy. I prefer to quietly dip my nuggets strawberry milk shakes, and go on about my day.

Aaaand that’s all I have to say about that. Blessings to you all. Share if you agree.

*****

Okay, accidentally, I’m wasting time now. I found a Link called “Share if you agree” on Facebook. Still laughing. If nothing else, it has extremely bizarre pictures to look at.

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2 thoughts on “Clique Bait”

  1. People need validation of their opinions to such extreme levels these days. People commit suicide because someone unfollowed them via social media. People think just because they have an opinion, that everyone is required to listen to it. The internet is one giant soapbox and every crazy tries to stand on it at the same time. It does get tiresome. I peek in on Facebook every so often but I don’t live there, and the reason is a lot of what you said already. Who wants to hang out where it smells so strongly of bull***t?

    Liked by 1 person

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