Democratic Debates and Words Perceived as Actions Online

If there’s a feminist rock band or feminist rapper out there looking for a name, I have your answer: Feminem. You’re welcome.

I watched the first of the democratic primary debates last night. I also watched Major League Soccer. Which is how you know you’re under the weather. Any time you watch a democratic primary debate and a Major League Soccer game in the same night… yeah you know things aren’t well. Stupid cold. It feels like there’s a colony of settlers making their home in my nose and they just won’t leave.

Anyways, I watched the democratic primary debate with whatever mental energy I had. It was pretty much what I expected. A bunch of people making sure they hit the right buzz words and appealing to the emotions of the crowd and voter base. I would like to think you could win a primary or even an election based on logic and reason, but that’s probably naive. Case in point: John Delaney.

This poor dude. He’s out there trying to be logical and reasonable and talk about the root causes of problems and tangible solutions to those problems, and he hardly gets any time or praise. He ends up having to try and force his way into the debate and goes over his allotted time, looking like an ass. He was screwed either way. It was either sink into irrelevance or look like an ass. At least he tried. I hadn’t even heard of the guy before the debate, so I had no rooting interest going in, but I would have liked to hear him talk more.

I thought Julian Castro and Corey Booker did a good job of hitting the right buzz words and playing off people’s emotions without being too obvious about it. Beto O’Rourke failed massively by speaking Spanish right out of the gate. It was a way too obvious ploy to appeal to Hispanic voters. When you only have a certain amount of time, there’s no other reason to use that small amount of time to say the same thing twice other than to appeal to a certain segment of voters. It serves no functional purpose. Nobody who only speaks Spanish is going to tune into the debate, not turn the SAP translation on, and listen to the entire thing in English having no idea what anyone is saying just in hopes that somebody will speak two sentences of Spanish.

Castro and Booker ended up also speaking Spanish at some point, probably because they felt compelled to after O’Rourke did so. Castro was the first to say the word “transgender,” and that was huge for him. He was considered the winner of the debate by many. I’m not saying that’s why he was the winner, specifically, but that was one of the largest applauses of the night. He was well-spoken and under control throughout. Booker did well in the emotional department, telling a story or two about things I can’t remember. I just remember they were emotional. Suck em in baby, suck em in!

I think if you were going to win the candidacy based on logic and reason, you would have to be ruthlessly on point. You would have to call out everyone on the spot for exactly what they’re doing, and really hammer down the fact that you have tangible solutions which can be implemented. Especially in a crowded field like this one, you have to be bold. (See what I did there?) You would have to say something like “Everyone here is trying to appeal to certain voter bases through disingenuous tactics and the American people are tired of it. Beto is trying to reel in Hispanic voters by speaking Spanish, Julian and Corey are playing off your emotions, and Elizabeth is just trying not to kill her momentum, but if you want things to actually improve in this country, you need someone with a plan. A plan that works…” Then you would be very specific in what that plan would be.

I think you could appeal to the silent majority with a tactic like that. Donald Trump won in 2016 in part because people were tired of “politicians.” The American people were tired of the political game, and Trump just said whatever the hell he wanted and people recognized him as different and bold. Even though the shit he said was often absurd and nonsensical, he still won. Imagine if somebody was that bold and actually made sense.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Andrew Yang does tonight. He’s easily the most logical and reasonable candidate with real solutions for real problems. I worry that he won’t be ruthless enough. I think you really have to gut the other candidates to make your mark. I would love to see someone just call everyone out on their bullshit. And use the word “bullshit,” too. I think cursing on national television would be a major power move.

Anyways, that’s enough politics for me this morning. I was thinking about something else yesterday that I wanted to explore. Hold on I have to go file through my word files and Google notes to figure out what the hell it was.

Okay I found it. Ooh I like this topic. I like it a lot. In short, I was thinking about words and actions being separate entities in the real world, but one and the same online. We’ve all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words,” which suggests the two are different. There are actions, and there are words. Actions carry more weight than words. In the real world, there are the things we do, and the things we say. Sometimes they line up. Often times they do not. But they are separate.

On the internet, there are only words. Nothing is physically acted out. Often times we hear arguments like “words can be violence, too.” These seem to be new arguments. I can’t help but wonder if it’s due to the internet, where people perceive words and actions to be indistinguishable.

The line between words and actions often times feels nonexistent on the web. We often assume that because someone said something, they actively support those sentiments through and through. It has become commonplace to punish someone for saying something as if they have performed a terrible action. If you say something perceived as racist, for example, it’s assumed that you are an active racist. In the real world, someone might share a racist joke with their friends in an attempt to make them laugh. Shock humor is the tactic. Their friends know the person doesn’t actively believe people of another race to be inferior to theirs, they’re just making a fucked up joke for the sake of being fucked up. Online, there is no distinction, no separation. The words are taken as an act.

Okay, this is a good start. I got a few things sorted out in my brain hole. I want to write a feature length piece on this subject, so I’ll probably try and work out some more before posting that. If anyone has any thoughts, let me know.

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