Into the Belly of the Beast
A Case Study on how Information can be used to Manipulate Emotions
I went somewhat viral earlier, for this post. It went about as I expected. It got a bunch of attention, including such lovely responses as this one:
For the most part, I have tried to keep a low profile online. I have happily remained off to the side and observed. But I kept getting struck by something: I saw so many people getting attacked. For who they are, not what they say. There are people who constantly harass others. I have seen cases where people will keep making new accounts in order to continue to attack people when they have already been blocked. So I decided to throw myself into the ring as a target. It was eye-opening.
Today I Gave My Dad A Choice: Trump or His Grandkids and His Son
The headline was constructed to paint a very specific picture. And it had the desired effect. People clicked the link.
The article had the desired effect. It prompted some very aggressive and nasty comments. So far over the last few days, I have been called the following:
- a Socialist
- the vile scum mentioned above
- a child abuser
- Harry Henderson’s ball sack (gotta give credit for creativity on this one; not one I had heard before)
- a liar
- various other names
I have also received a lovely email:
What a vile sucker of dark turds you have become. You will eat them all of your life.
I had people contact my place of employment. I just found out I was making national news.
I got added to a bunch of Twitter lists:
What I Did
I decided to use an emotional moment for me as a catalyst. I took something from my life, wrote it up in a very specific way, and waited to see the results. Let’s examine the text message I sent to my dad, line by line:
Due to the signs in the yard, the kids and I will not be down.
That is all it said about my kids. A little extra context: We live a couple blocks away from them. Normally the kids and I will walk down to visit. Personally, I view the signs as a form of hate speech at this point. For me, that is not something I want my kids around. My dad and I have had our disagreements over politics for years. But I am not going to have my kids around those signs. That is a personal choice that I have made. I never said directly that I was cutting off ties, or that there would be no contact made ever. These were things that others injected into the story. I think I struck a nerve though. People certainly seemed to fill in the details that they were most afraid of in their own lives.
The current occupant of the White House is preaching hate and violence, endangering the lives and safety of many of my friends.
This is really the point of all of this. I wanted to experience some of what I had seen others going through. And I have.
This is not acceptable to me at all.
It’s not. The amount of division being stirred right now is staggering. There is no path to healing through division.
There is a complete disregard for women, minorities, science, ethics, and morality.
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Please consider if you support Trump that much.
I wanted the idea planted. How much do you support him?
Because I hate him that much.
I do. I honestly do. Because he is everything I am against. But this was also meant to stir emotions.
I wanted to be upfront and honest about my feelings.
Feelings. This word was meant as something to be attacked. And as I expected, it was.
The amount of hate that I have been subjected to over the past few days has been completely staggering. This is not something I am used to. But it is what I expected. I have seen it happen to others. I have had others reach out to me about it. But I had never experienced it first-hand. Until now.
Those experiencing it have to keep their heads down. There tends to be a lot of risks to them if they rock the boat. I don’t have those same risks. I have a comfortable job. I know my job supports the work I am doing here. I know who I am, and I am completely comfortable with who I am. So their words don’t cut me as deeply as they do others.
I have had people reach out to me to show their support. They are the ones who experience this kind of treatment daily. It wears on them. Hell, it honestly wears on me. But this tells me I am, in fact, doing the right thing.
A lot of the stuff thrown my way could also be easily researched, and discovered to be false. I don’t hide who I am at all. This is because I want all of this to be in the open. I want people to see it for what it really is.
Because hate and division are not a sustainable path forward. And if I can stir up this much hate and division on a weekend by myself, how much can a concerted effort by others rile people up to a point that results in violence? It is very easy. I want people to see that anything written has an agenda. I am trying to be forthcoming with mine. I want people to see how easy it is. Then maybe they can protect themselves in the future. I don’t want people to agree with me. I want people to put the same level of thoughts and understanding into their beliefs as I have. I know exactly what I believe, and why. I recommend others do the same.
And this is what I am going to show my dad. He took down the yard sign. Now the conversations can start anew. I have been having a very hard time showing him the hate I have seen online. But now, I can show him exactly what I have seen. Thank you to everyone who responded and made it possible for me to prove my point.