Friday, July 13, 2012

Do You Copy?

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Charles Caleb Colton.

In the world of radio communication, nothing is as important as ensuring receipt of a transmission. A police officer sending out vital information to another is wasting her time if the intended recipient does not "copy," does not receive the data and understand its import. That kind of stuff slips into day-to-day conversation as well - "repeat?" or the ever favorite "en route" entering not just my speech patterns, but the Greer family lexicon as a whole.

A different kind of "copying" finds its way to the pages of social media, with an entirely different communication agenda. It is highly annoying and lends little to personal exchanges.

I refer to the popular and useless practice of copying political punditry links and pasting them, accompanied by a helpful observation or two, onto social media. What was once a fairly harmless neighborhood comprised of friends and family, vacation pictures and grandkids is now awash with charts, graphs and boldly defamatory rhetoric of the most vile kind. It has made being available for conversations with my out-of-town children daunting.

Open FB in the morning and I am likely to be told that - Republicans want the sick and uninsured to die, Barack Obama is a socialist from Kenya, or that Mitt Romney should be arrested for felony violations of Securities and Exchange Commission rules. Often, these posts are accompanied by slick and colorful visuals that helpfully reinforce the less-than-faithful treatment of the facts. The posting "friend" adds "Fairly balanced observations," or "I highly recommend this." My favorite - "HELL, YEAH!!!!!!!" as if the caps and punctuation somehow lend themselves to making the point.

The problem is two fold. First...really? Can someone be any more intellectually lazy than that? No real evidence exists that the poster actually read the column. Citizens United seems a particular hot button, and popular subject to explain how corporations will flood the universe with money and buy political favor. Various of the chattering class have weighed in on this complicated decision and - want to see my shocked face? - determined it is either savior of the Republic or the devil's spawn. So, why not copy the link, post it on FB and write "See, THAT'S WHAT I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT!!!!!"

No, in fact the copier hasn't talked about it at all. They posted someone else's invective, noted it approvingly and left it to the reader someone else's analysis. You want to engage in conversation? Converse. Tell me what you make of the subject, how you have digested the variety of opinions and come to your own conclusion. Then, we can talk. Otherwise, I'm just gnashing my teeth at something offensive and pointless written by the pitiful Markos Moulitsas.

Second, often the posted column contains bitter pearls of offense designed to impugn, not inspire. I recently was treated to a post claiming Republicans want the uninsured to die. Really? Do all Republicans want that? Most? A certain demographic? The offering didn't say, and the especially good friend who posted it did not add any helpful disclaimers to go along with this horror. I was left to conclude that I was lumped in with the other thieves and brigands. Leave, for a moment, that one of the few politicians who ever publicly discussed a "duty to die" was the former governor of Colorado - a Democrat. Was that really what my friend was saying, that I want the uninsured to die?

Discussing the issues facing America is important work. People ought to have an opinion, and vote their conscience. I won't be supporting President Obama, but that doesn't mean I'm right. Rest assured that readers of this blog will be getting my own words, with due respect for their passion and commitment to what they believe in, and for them as people. I may, as the saying goes, be often in error -- never in doubt, but they will be my mistakes, my faults.

Do you copy?