Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Monsters From the Id - Social Media and 21st Century Politics

Forbidden Planet, released in 1956, was a groundbreaking movie in a range of aspects, only a few of which were in special effects.

The "planet" was previously home to a technologically "superior" race - the Krell.  During the course of the movie, we learn this civilization had created an infrastructure that could manufacture anything and deliver it to anyone with a thought.  It sounds like a great idea when Robby the Robot was creating jewels and clothing for Altaira or whiskey for the spaceship's drunken cook.

But the technology couldn't differentiate between a conscious wish and a subconscious nightmare.  So when the Krell slept, and the "Id" came alive, their technology delivered their greatest horrors.  No one was spared - not the most intelligent, not even the creators of the technology.

It is now 2016 and it is time to cut the bullshit daydreaming that our voting communities can be "united" after venting themselves on the Internet during election season.

The US Civil War was 150 years ago, and even though the USA is legally one country, the cultural prejudices and hostilities between North and South persist to this day.

Neither Trump nor Clinton will "unify" the US, regardless of who wins today.  It's unreasonable to call your opponent's supporters a "basket of deplorables" and expect them to fall in line with your inauguration.  It is equally unreasonable to make unfiltered knee-jerk smart-ass comments about your personal nemeses day after day for months and think all will be forgotten on November 9.

It's not just national politics.

In my little burg, the greatest advocates of "preservation" have torn elements of our community to pieces all in the name of keeping physical relics alive.  Our elected officials have turned to petty dictators in an effort to mold our city into their personal living room.  And ran afoul of the state government within 6 months of our last municipal election.  But that isn't new.  For years one representative or another has advocated for one group's lifestyle in this city to the detriment of others.  All in the name of "building community".  I have a flash for you, Barney - you don't create a community by turning elements of it against each other over residential lifestyle differences.

Then there's the nuclear arsenal of the carpool set:  school redistricting.  We have our playdates, we have our chance meetings on the playground.  We have our scouts, and youth groups and sports teams.  Then the idea of rearranging our school populations rolls in like a live grenade and the monster devours everyone again.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Read for yourself and decide.  You can figure out the personalities with a few minutes of research.

With all of the blog posts and social media clips and screenshots - nothing will be forgotten. No matter how many photo ops are taken or how many charity projects supported after the fact, everyone will remember getting attacked and hurt.   Everyone will remember who was on what side, and what attack they made.  Forgiveness is another topic altogether and I'm not holding out too much hope for that either.

The Krell planet eventually found peace - when the population disappeared and there was no one left to dream up a monster.

The best any elected official at any level can hope for in 2016 is a cessation of hostilities.  An equilibrium between groups whose POVs are irreconcilable.  It takes superhuman objectivity and a committed refusal to engage in combat online.  That's a very short list of capable people.  No one can achieve it perfectly.  But "unity"?  Forget it.  It's gone.  Mutual coexistence while minimizing overt hostility is the best you can shoot for.

I can't watch the returns tonight.  Likewise when keeping up with local politics, I do it alone, in a closed office.  Best when social media is turned off.

Migrating databases, debugging source code and managing household paperwork has never looked so good.  It's peaceful and it puts the Id to sleep.

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