Even the intractable culture war has its common ground. Today I watched a conversation unfold that nearly sapped my will to continue living. It occurred between a hyper-progressive, holier-than-though, eats-their-own leftist and a dyed-in-the-wool, everything is immoral (unless it’s my god-king Trump doing it), MAGA-ranting right-wing psychopath, and it chilled me to the bone.
The leftie started out bemoaning how awful our society is because some (read: “white”) people “feel the need” to build axe-throwing targets in their back yard, and how blatantly racist/sexist/homophobic/privileged/etc. that is (I have no idea how logic could be so tortured, but well, there it is). Several of their followers chittered various versions of agreement, until one brought up how they saw one built only a couple of dozen feet from a FENCE! My god! The risks! The potential dismemberments!
Out of the blue, our rightie chimed in. The original poster was evil, commie scum, of course, but COULDN’T BE MORE RIGHT ABOUT THE DANGERS! a thrown axe is death incarnate, you see. It’s a practice that cannot be tolerated because of the potential for mass-destruction, or something. Axe-throwing KILLS CHILDREN, don’t you know? More supportive toady chittering followed, from both groups, and then, the first rightie poster returned with the example of one such unstoppable carnage machine A FEW HUNDRED YARDS FROM A SCHOOL!!!
Now, I started out watching all this with amusement. Obviously, not one of them from either side had ever thrown an axe. A 1-3 pound hunk of steel that is significantly above ground level even a dozen feet past standard axe-target-range would have to be hurled intentionally into a ridiculously high loft, save perhaps by an Olympian. The idea of one going hundreds of yards should be enough to inspire giggling. But then, I read on with growing dismay.
The disturbing thing about this exchange was seeing the left-right sniping completely disappear, and a weird mob-mentality take over, gravid with the loudest shrikes of both sides. These people worked themselves into a “Heavy metal is the work of Satan” style moral panic in the course of a couple of dozen posts. In terror, I blocked every last one of them, and hid the post from my feed. I internet ran away.
If even the most trivial topic can do this, what’s going to happen when these nuts turn their attention to “people who vote minor party” (who I’m told by both sides are A ThReAt To DeMoCrAcY!), or people who support government whistle-blowing (whom again, I’ve seen both sides accuse of “treason”, “espionage”, “murder”, and so on.) The extremists on either side of the culture war have been weaponized by their respective sides as a distraction tactic, but I don’t think the people fanning the flames know what they are putting in motion.
I see a lot of pitchforks and torches in our future, and I’m beginning to wonder once again if maybe someone should just push the big red button and let the rats have their shot at running the planet…