Outside of asking my wife to marry me, the best decision I ever made came in late July 2018 while on a long-scheduled vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains.
It was in the heat of a controversy in which the previous sheriff went bat-crap crazy in pursuit of an elderly couple who had gotten overwhelmed with unwanted dogs and cats, and a lunatic group of animal rescuers — once “friends” — who saw the potential for a huge payday at the expense of that same elderly couple. Instead of “helping,” they waited more than two months to devise a plan to get as much national exposure as possible to rake in the most money possible. It was a disgraceful act.
It had been about two weeks since the military-style raid launched by our (thankfully) ex-sheriff, and he had declared war on this newspaper for having the gall to report a story about dog-food receipts and the fact that his henchmen turned away a pet-food-delivery — something not mentioned on his Facebook TV show.
Even then, I rarely looked or used my Facebook account. If I did, I likely had spent the night in the sauce or was posting pictures of our puppies.
I laughed at the lunacy so many show on social media and shook my head constantly at what people would actually post about themselves — or others. Those vicious women at that rescue organization — ask people who used to work with them, and they will tell of the same stories of their viciousness — went wild against me.
No surprise. I have a very thick skin, a must for working in this business for so long. Want to call me a jackass? Fine, have at it. Want to say I am fat? Come on, you can do better than that. But when those (female dogs) started going after my wife, I had two options: 1.) I could go right back after them. (But then I remembered the Murphy’s Law slogan, “Do not get in an argument with an idiot because people might not be able to tell the difference.”) or 2.) I could do what I had been wanting to do for a while — get off of Facebook.
I chose the latter. And, like an Alcoholics Anonymous success story, I have been Facebook sober for 30 months. It has been bliss.
We can see now what is happening with social-media tech giants, silencing dissenting views and using someone’s speech to ostracize and even “cancel” users with whom there is disagreement. Anyone can be canceled now if their thought goes against that of which “they” believe — which is about half of the country. I imagine many of those reading this right now have spent time in Facebook jail if not been suspended forever.
It is getting worse every day. If a photo of you at a protest doesn’t jive with “the mainstream,” you will find yourself in danger of losing a job, of not being able to use a bank or fly on an airline. Decisions are being made in emotional fits where the results will be a complicit, complacent citizenry that will keep their mouths shut and follow orders — or else. Can anyone say China?
Is this the latest salvo into giving every American a social credit score, where you are monitored 24 hours per day and — do anything wrong, say the wrong word, protest at the wrong time and be banished from society? Such would be a politician’s dream, but it is so antithetical to what the founding of this country was based upon.
The pushback now is minimal because the loudest voices are not the ones being targeted. We must always be reminded of early 20th century German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller, who said in reference to Hitler’s rise, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
First they came for the conservatives ... it is happening right now and is being led by monopolies such as Facebook and Twitter, with the blessings of corporate America and a national media that has devolved into little more than a propagandist arm for the Democratic Party. When conservatives do find an alternate outlet free of agenda-driven censorship, the giants collude to silence them, too.
One solution would be to hurt them the best way possible — by leaving for good. Tell them to stick it. Make it hurt where it hurts most — in their pocketbooks. The ancillary effect will be peace of mind for you and yours — and when, eventually, they do install social credit scores and they look you up, there will be nothing. Zero.
Rip off the Band-Aid. It isn’t that bad, really. Oh, you might have to actually talk to another human being, but is that really so bad?
It’s exponentially better than having to police your every word and action in fear of being canceled by society.
Sean Murphy is managing editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at email@example.com.