As has become an annual tradition, a plethora of holiday memes and gifs are being posted on the internet. Thankfully, this is one of the more innocuous uses of social media and is also probably closer to what Mark Zuckerberg and Tom originally envisioned when they created their social media sites in mid-2000s.
On purely factual basis, social media sites are target-rich environments for debunkers, truth seekers, and, well, people who just can’t stand to see obviously (and, all too often, deliberately) inaccurate “information” being promulgated. Despite it seeming as if the public is aware that social media tends to be a logical and intellectual wasteland, people are still susceptible to the power of repetition and often lend credibility to the insane things that are posted because it was created, or shared, by someone who they have at least a passing personal familiarity with. The dearth of reason and accuracy on those platforms is well documented and frequently criticized.
But, even if social media has inherent flaws that often create caustic consequences, it also has a few redeeming qualities and uses. It is the Christmas and New Year holidays that often cause a slight reversion to the more mundane, but much less destructive, utilization of sites like Facebook and Twitter. A proportion of posting energy is used to talk about family, friends, and gifts and that, in turn, reduces the amount of vitriolic political posts by a small percentage. Starting around Thanksgiving, a person can venture out onto social media and not be subjected to barrage of frustration, anger, and even hate. At least that is the way it is on my pages, timelines, and accounts. Your mileage may vary.
There was one meme that caught my attention. I was in a particularly positive mood when I saw it and considered posting it. I didn’t. But someone I know who is currently facing some challenges, and often has a difficult time not adding to the dramatic aspects of Facebook, ended up posting that upbeat meme. In it, a character wondered what 2020 would bring. The other character provided some perspective by replying, “365 opportunities.”
It is expected that I remain focused on politics and political issues in these columns, so here it goes.
In addition to the connotations that meme has for individuals, there can also be a broader meaning. If you’re a Democrat, you are likely to see 365 opportunities to fight back against what you see as an atrocious administration that is making disastrous policy choices. If you’re a Republican, you see nearly 400 chances perpetuate and fortify the status quo. To keep things simple, I won’t involve Libertarians and independents in my example.
I’d like to be able to say that I agree with the meme and that, even in a presidential election year, we have 365 chances to quit viewing the world through a disproportionately partisan prism; to stop judging people by a descriptor associated with their name in a database at the election board offices. But I’d be wrong to say that. The meme’s positivity is in error claiming we each have 365 opportunities to make things better and be nicer to one another. It’s just flat wrong to say that we have 365 mornings when we can resolve to remember that our neighbors, friends, and even our family members are more than the sum of their political parts.
We have 366. Don’t waste any of the days you’re given in the upcoming year to remember the world is filled with human beings, not voting units; not even the extra day that 2020 gives us.
Jason Nichols is District 2 Democratic Party chair, an instructor of political science at Northeastern State University, and former mayor of Tahlequah.