LGN 120 The Refollowing

Inside: Social media; Why we unfollow; The gun show; Life skills

Confession. The other day I refollowed everyone that I’ve unfollowed on Facebook. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people. The sound of no one caring is the appropriate response to that. There were a bunch of people that I just plain forgot to re-follow after, say, the culmination of sports seasons.

Why is it that a person posting something completely innocuous and even mildly enjoyable becomes a negative solely due to their prolific nature. Baby goats are cute. Someone posting five baby goat pictures a day has the same effect as someone sitting next to you and saying the words “baaaaa-by bump” literally every time you see them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doting on your baby goats. It’s not rational for it to be annoying and yet it quickly calls for censoring (in the benign sense of the word).

Something in our brains turns that into, “Jeezus Cripes! It’s all baby goats! Every damn second of every day, baby friggin’ goats! I can’t take it! Not one. More. Damn it, another one! Why is this happening to me?”

I think it’s our mind’s way of filtering information. There’s so much stimuli and information being broadcast — there’s a threshold — where a stream or channel of info becomes a nuisance. Who knows what Facebook does to manipulate our feeds and determines what we see and don’t, not to mention why. If videos of baby goats appear to increase sales for Amazon something tells me we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them.

I have unfollowed for:

Political views

Well, not necessarily the views themselves but how they’re expressed. Elections, gun rights “debates”, etc. Almost none of these issues are black and white or all or nothing and yet — yelling at each other with pictures posted and created by other people containing logically fallacious captions is the best we can do at this point in human development.

Arguments and draining discussions

Sometimes I can’t resist the urge to jump into a conversation with what I hope is common sense and reason. You know, when you’re like, “No! That’s not true.” Or “No. That’s just a talking point and it’s not even based in fact.” Or, “No, I’m pretty sure that just because a woman wears a mini-skirt or yoga pants, it doesn’t mean that she’s asking for it, and by ‘it’ I’m under the assumption that we’re referring to sexual harassment and assault, correct? Yeh, no, you’re wrong.”

It’s stressful, though, and drags out over hours and days. I don’t need that. Nobody needs that. So provocateurs tend to get unfollowed.

Sports

I don’t follow sports. I’ve got nothing against them but sometimes I have to clear the heavy chatter on the feed or wall or whatever you call it.

Overload in general

I’m sure a lot of people unfollowed me because of all the MapMyRide posts. I understand. I’ve sometimes unfollowed people because FB decides that everything they post about a particular topic should be front and center. I don’t know why that can be too much in the grand scheme of online things but sometimes it just is. Gotta take a break.

Negativity

Some of y’all know some petty people. But constantly complaining about said petty people and drama drags you down, too. Memes about haters and other people being idiots. Can’t start my day with a low level background hum of negative thoughts about people and vaguely articulated situations I don’t even know.

Racial stuff

This works both ways. People are way too comfortable posting racist or dog-whistle racially demeaning statements and memes. Like people who post angrily about crime but only when it’s committed by a black person. People who call black people animals for doing X but have nothing to say when white people do X. You know what I’m talking about. The people whose goal in any conversation is to reach the conclusion that black people are inherently awful, violent, hypersexual, etc. The people who strive to prove that black people haven’t contributed to humanity. Those types. You know ’em. I know ’em. They’re awful.

On the other hand, constant posts about what’s racist today and what was racist recently — I can’t deal sometimes. I’m not saying stop. It’s just — it’s the victim mindset that I really have trouble with. The “we can’t do anything”, “breathing while black”, “nothing’s changed since [insert era]” attitude. The collective, sardonic, negativity. And if you question it you may be accused of being a traitor, in so many words. There’s no sense of healthy detachment from historical racial and racist trauma. Like, the difference between being angry and activated about injustices, past and present, and being angry and paralyzed by that anger.

Always assuming the worst about another person based on generalizations.

Bubbles

That’s a good segue to bubbles. Ideological bubbles. When a community of people become a self-reinforcing, self-inflating cauldron of rhetoric and groupthink. They defend their space vigorously and will “win” an argument or discussion through sheer force of numbers, mocking, snark and shade.

It takes all kinds. Sociopolitical mob mentality. It’s a pet peeve of mine. Can’t stand it.

Jealousy and envy

This one is about my own shortcomings and not about anyone else’s lives. There are people I’d like to spend time with or social circles that I admire. I’ve unfollowed folks because it sucks being outside the gates. And of course, women that I’m attracted to. Sometimes I can’t deal so I shut it down. Not that there’s anything particularly noble about that. It’s just a personal boundary to avoid or protect my — whatever. Ego? Spiral? Stomach knots? What’s the phrase I’m looking for? Defense mechanism. There it is.

I‘ve only unfriended one person and that was accidental. It was kind of a dick move even to unfollow, which is what I was trying to do. He was in a bad way about a relationship deteriorating and was saying some borderline worrisome things and seemed to be beyond consoling. It was one of those awkward moments because I couldn’t really add them back, right. Years later I was going to send a friend request and then I saw his posts, which fall neatly into a few of the categories mentioned above. Ne’mind.

You gotta do what you gotta do and social media does not bring out the best in us. It really doesn’t. It’s useful sometimes and it does provide a connection with a lot of people, although tenuous, illusory connections are its forte.

So the great refollowing has commenced. Subsequently, the re-unfollowing has also commenced. People crazy. It is the way of things.

THE GUN SHOW

I was researching handguns the other day. Why? I don’t know what I was thinking. I took that one Excellence in Shooting class and got a certificate that I could theoretically use to get a concealed carry permit even though I have no business getting a carry permit at this point.

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The people at the NRA range were really helpful and knowledgeable. I walked out of there thinking, “I could totally get a gun. There’s really no reason not to.”

A fair number of guys who do bushcraft and camping videos carry, particularly when they go into wilderness areas. I’m not sure why, exactly. From what I can tell they don’t tend to carry anything that would efficiently put an end to the charge of a large, pissed off mammal like a bear or moose or RUS.

So I went online and followed up on some recommendations. Just researching. Like PK said, I really don’t need another expensive hobby. Gun, holster, ammo, carrying case, cleaning, home safe, car safe, and who knows what else. And who stops at one gun? That would be like only owning one camera. Ridiculous. At the minimum I’d want a handgun and a rifle. Or a shotgun. Okay. One conceal friendly handgun (Glock 43), a target shooting handgun, a rifle, a shotgun. I’ve always been fond of archery while we’re at it. A crossbow?

I’m still uneasy around guns. The skills and practices aren’t habitual. Glocks, for instance, don’t have safeties. I can’t imagine not shooting something accidentally. Probably myself. Like, after all these years I occasionally take accidental photos of the ground, floor, wall, or sky. A lot of gun accidents are just like that. You forget to remove the bullet from the chamber. Then like a responsible gun owner you go to clean it one day and bang. S%#! where’d that bullet go. Where are the kids. Oh thank god.

Or you hand a chimpanzee an automatic rifle for laughs and the bullets start flying. That’s not supposed to happen and yet it does with alarming frequency, which is a fact I just made up.

Responsible gun ownership and handling is what they try to drill into you when you walk into the NRA range and others, I’m sure. It’s in all the reading material. It’s on television, videos, and gun channels. Be safe, be responsible, hone your skills, have fun, exercise your rights.

It makes so much sense. The guns = liberty angle? Ehhhhhhhhh. Maybe a bit too much emphasis on the one amendment. Liberty is a bit more involved.  There’s the ability and means to defend, and then there’s what you’re defending, which is supposed to be the whole point.The other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, for example. Plus the other 18 ratified amendments.

The reality of gun ownership is far from immaculate because, you know, people. Hanging with a bunch of guys at a cabin a few years ago, folks brought their guns for target shooting. Everyone was careful and meticulous about their safety with an exception, of course. Because there’s always an exception. That’s where human nature comes in. And alcohol. And by exception I’m not implying incompetence. I’m saying that gun safety hygiene? It’s a binary kind of thing. And then who’s going to be the guy that says to the other guy, “Hey, man. You really shouldn’t have one in the chamber right now.”

Nobody.

Like I said before, knowing how to handle guns is a life skill. Everyone who isn’t ideologically opposed should take a class just for kicks. Even if it’s just learning how to make a gun safe to be handled.

My problem with this whole thing is that some people worship guns. Or idolize them, I should say. There’s a difference between gun enthusiasts and gun nuts. Maybe that’s a fine line. Our bullcrap, small-minded, tribal political environment isn’t doing us any favors. You know. “I’m going to carry a gun in public because people are uncomfortable around armed strangers who have a point to make or an ax to grind.”

The cat is out of the bag and isn’t going back in the bag any time soon. Subsequently, there should be a LOT more training involved before someone is allowed to carry a firearm in public. And I say that as someone who has a certificate that will allow me to apply for a permit to do just that.

I could easily see myself becoming an enthusiast, though, the same way I’d be a kayaking enthusiast if I had somewhere to keep one. Maybe after I’m more comfortable and habituated. When it’s muscle memory.

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