Trust me, I’m a Doctor: The starving hyenas of social media


Dr. Leeper

Social media, at its inception, was a friendly place. When I first signed onto Facebook over a decade ago, my “friends’ included a few like-minded family members, left-leaning students, and a smattering of grad school classmates. I would occasionally throw out some snarky liberal comment, and attract a few “likes” and droll, chai-sipping liberal retorts, usually something to do with Dick Cheney’s “heart” or George W. Bush’s “strategery.”

But then everything changed. As the years progressed, I was “friended” by the bulk of those from my past: high school classmates (right-leaning Republicans, either rock-ribbed or rich), and fraternity brothers from UNL (rich conservatives and startlingly rich conservatives). As a consequence, my “friends” now swell to near 900 (odd, because in real life, I think I can only remember the names of about six people, and they all detest me).

Many of these 900 “friends” are current and former students, which is delightful. The bulk of the rest, however, are shady figures from my youth in Nebraska, who seem to fall ideologically somewhere between the Shah of Iran and Ted Cruz. So, now when I share a comment about gun control, or racial inequality, or, especially, praise for President Obama, it’s as though I have wandered into a pack of flesh-starved, conservative hyenas. My formerly celebrated snarky comments now generate threads of 70, 80, 90 angry, belittling responses, and I am ripped apart and reduced to a set of bleached liberal bones.

Lately, I have decided to move away from my page and launch an offensive.

Last week, I noticed a post from a “friend” on my “news feed” urging the Unicameral to pass the Voter ID bill. A uniformly supportive thread was unfolding celebrating the need for photo IDs and mocking liberal opposition. Someone claimed the need to protect “the integrity of the voting process” (10 “likes”). Then, someone condemned “the whiny and educated liberal BS claiming this is a “poll tax” prohibited by the 24th Amendment” (20 likes). I thought this was a good time for me to enter. The American Sniper.

I asserted, “There’s no fraud. I thought Republicans were against wasting money. And be honest: its not about integrity of the voting process, we have that, it’s about decreasing Democrat voting. Just be honest.”

No one “liked” my comment (damn). A guy shot back, though, who I don’t know: “It’s all about integrity of the process, period. That’s my honest opinion, Mark.” (Why did he call me Mark? That’s creepy). Five people quickly “liked” his comment (damn).

I fired back: “Secretaries of State across the country see no need for the laws. The integrity of the process is upheld by current processes. For all the bluster about the sanctity of the ballot box, what is forgotten is the microscopic numbers of voters motivated to commit fraud (even more microscopic than our actual voter turnout) can likely find their way around the IDs as generations of adolescent drinkers have. Just not worth the effort, and deaf to our shameful history of race-based voter oppression. We should never erect barriers to voting again.”

There were no likes for my comment (DAMN), but some conservative guy wandered into the conversation and posted “two cases of election fraud in Nebraska and no cases of voter fraud. Let’s spend 800K on nothing.”

I quickly took cover and returned to my page and posted innocuous photos of my son.The conservative thread devolved into cannibalism, an internecine battle, over 43 posts. I had walked away clean, and decided to go enjoy the social media engine that is truly respectful, dignified, polite, and intellectual.