As someone who was on social media posting ridiculous things for years and years and as someone who has benefited from there being a self-publishing platform for podcasting and writing, I appreciate the joys of free speech. I appreciate the ability to say something knowing that hey, I can say it but if I say something defamatory or dangerous there are repercussions. I appreciate that because we don’t need to say every last thing that pops into our heads.
We don’t need to spout every theory we have about everything going on.
We don’t need to challenge or threaten people we either know or don’t know.
I appreciate that we have freedom that we don’t have to use.
THAT is a key, to that first amendment, that it’s there for us, but to USE not to ABUSE.
Of the many things that were endorsed in the United States, that is by far one of the greatest because it means that even in the craziest and scariest of times, we were able to legally put our ideas and intellect out there. Again though, there were always costs.
As great as our country is, there is always a BUT that comes when you talk about history.
One that jumps out at me is when the Red Scare swept through the nation and people in entertainment were blackballed because they were SUSPECTED to be Communists or a Communist sympathizer. Like the REAL witch hunts that occurred throughout history, many times this was a game of telephone and grudge settling. Didn’t like someone, you reported them as a Commie. Hear a rumor that someone was saying something that sounded like it was what you think Communism was like…turn them in.
We have faced this sort of thing time and again.
And people had the ability to BE Communist, or to be sympathetic, but the consequence was that you could be ousted from your entertainment community and put on trial as if you were a spy.
Speech may be free, but there is always a cost.
With the rise of so many platforms for us to speak to the world and to our circles through though, we are losing sight of that cost and are giving too much airtime to people and ideas that don’t need amplification.
There is value to our opinions, and there is value to our views because we see things like no one else does, because we are absolutely different than one another. That doesn’t make our views and opinions better than anyone else’s but it also means that it’s not valueless. The problem though comes when we decide that we are an expert in something we know little about.
Welcome to social media, where everyone is an expert, and everyone knows someone who is a doctor who TOTALLY knows the TRUTH.
And it’s always TRUTH.
How many of us have seen those posts from people decrying this or that regarding health and then proclaiming that THEY HEARD whatever they heard. Some even going so far as to say something like, well, I found BLANK and that’s the supplement I take to stop from getting BLANK and I just so happen to sell it.
We saw this sort of thing a lot during Covid.
People mistook their freedom to espouse doubts and fears as authority to do it and to sway other fearful people to their side.
I can’t MAKE you believe in Covid, or that it’s dangerous, it just won’t happen without you wanting to listen, but I also don’t need to give you my ears to let you vomit your nonsense into them.
And here’s where we start getting into trouble.
People with anecdotal TRUTH and strong beliefs and stronger suspicions are taking the proverbial mic and are just shouting into it like the world is gonna end. Whatever their cause may be, by god, you better listen.
And people do.
Too many people.
As I have said before, I knew a guy that was a normal, if incel-ish, guy that one day went from a guy who hated all drugs to a hardcore pothead who suddenly believed he’d seen a spaceship, believed in ‘sacred geometry’ (which makes me laugh as I think he was an atheist), and best of all, believed the world was flat. This isn’t to say I blame pot but that there was a lot going on in him and that several factors worked together to essentially drive him crazy.
He found a lot of backing ‘data’ on YouTube, and loved to put up videos PROVING the earth was flat or that ‘sacred geometry’
And here’s another problem, people with their own issues, their own trauma, their own fear, their own confusion, can always find an echo chamber to broadcast their theories to. And support is great, it’s necessary, but there are some things that are dangerous to broadcast.
That we have celebrities that proudly declare – yeah, I mean, I dunno that the earth is round – that tells you we have a problem.
With people in power playing games with what truth really is for their own game, with people building brands on trolling others, with people that have genuine mental health issues getting large platforms, we have devalued honest and real truth so that it’s hard to know WHAT to believe for some.
How many of us heard over and over that the Covid vaccines did THIS to my aunt’s best friend?
Or that – someone was PAID to lie about so and so.
Or hey, that an election was fake despite proof to the opposite effect.
If you have feelings on these things, great.
Speak your truth.
But we don’t need to give you a megaphone to do it.
Over the last few years, we have watched countless con-people stand up and make claims and allegations they know are not true because there’s no repercussion. There’s no COST to free speech anymore. Sure, you can be put in ‘Twitter jail’ or ‘Facebook jail’ if you post something outrageous, but that passes and you’re back. Or you set up another account. Or you move to another platform. People who posted hate, racism, sexism, homophobia, or any number of other awful things got slowly pushed off of Reddit, so they went to 4Chan, and then to 8Chan, and then to any number of other sites that claim to support free speech but don’t really care. They just want money, and they want subscribers.
How many rich pastors are there out there?
People who claim to have God’s ear and drive Benz’s and live in mansions.
You really think God would give them the time of day?
Come on now.
We need a reminder, I think, that free speech does have a cost.
When we say things that are defamatory, that are dangerous, that are outright ignorant we need to be called out on it at the LEAST. We don’t need to ‘like’ the comment because it’s a friend or family member. We don’t need to give them support for ignorance.
We don’t need to keep putting people on our television broadcasts, on our podcasts, and on our sites for clicks because they are saying outlandish things. Sure, you’ll get your views but it’s also spreading an ignorant message further and strengthening it. Someone sees a person on TV, and they think that that person must be an expert because why else would they be on the TV? We put them on because we figure, oh, hey, this is a human-interest story…secretly loving the slow-moving car wreck that they anticipate this will be.
Let’s be real, real honest here.
Donald Trump, famous as he was, was never taken seriously during his run up to his Presidential run. Not as a politician. And he used that to his advantage. The GOP didn’t take him seriously as a threat and neither did the Democrats and he played that up as being an outsider. People LOVE political outsiders, thinking that they’ll clean the system up or will get the real work of the people done.
It never happens though.
Those people get mired down in the mud because they don’t get that politics IS a system. It’s a give and a take. If you don’t know how to operate in that system, you will falter quickly.
That doesn’t mean we don’t need new blood, but we need new blood that GETS what they are getting into. We had an ‘outsider’ run Michigan for eight years and we ended up with the lead water crisis in Flint.
Tell me again how that worked out.
There have always been ‘crazy’ ideas out there.
There always will be.
Some things are up for healthy debate, and some things aren’t.
Health and science are twins that are not up for debate.
Neither is the right of someone to live their life so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone further than their feelings. You can dislike gay lifestyles or whatever all you want, just keep it to yourself.
The problem too is that hate seems like it’s behind so much of all this.
Hate and anger.
Heck, people who insist that the earth is flat make me wonder if they truly believe it or just refuse to accept what they are told. As if they are trying to make a statement like they aren’t a sheep, oh, sorry, a sheeple. So much of this stuff feels performative that you wonder what they believe in the privacy of their heads. Sure, you can convince yourself of all manner of things, but do you BELIEVE it in your heart? Do you believe the crazy stuff you are saying, or do you just want people to think you do?
I do know that for too long we’ve been letting trolls, liars, and kooks grab the mic and the platform so they could broadcast their ideas out to the world. We are letting people who have nothing to lose push agendas and talking points around for funsies when we are facing bigger issues like a war that will change our literal world history, and the reality that we care more about what’s on the socials than we do the fact that we are killing our planet. We are so desperate for train wrecks we give unhinged people views and hits and REVENUE and further tell them that hey, I want to hear this. We do, because we think it’s funny, but the bigger their platform gets, the more people will listen, and the more credibility it gains.
Look no further than the QAnon movement, which was a jokey fringe conspiracy about pedo sex rings at a pizza place (WHAT? And yet someone believes it happened) and now is a catch all for the far-right fear movement. They will take all conspiracies so long as it gets another person who pretends the Bible tells them what to do into office.
Again, we can debate a lot of things, we can discuss a lot of things, and we should.
But we don’t.
We shout, we yell, we berate, and then we turn to the camera and smile and act as if we got ‘em.
We GOT ‘em!
We let them say and do whatever they want so long as they fall on the WHAT ABOUT MUH FREE SPEAKS sword and then we back down because darn it, we do love our free speech.
I have watch so much performative nonsense from elected officials who care only about their fame, their money, and the career after politics that I could explode.
Stop giving the kooks the cameras, the microphones, the views, the hits, and the time.
Let them blow, wind blow, and ignore them.
The more we tune because we think they are funny the more we legitimize them and give them what they want.
We don’t need to cancel them.
We just need to turn…them…off.
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