First Facebook Election, or, How I Became the Countryís Biggest Killjoy
by Ellen Finnigan
Well I donít
know what you old fogies were doing on Tuesday night, but if you
were watching television you were definitely missing out. All the
hip action was on Facebook!
Now let me
just start by saying: I held out against the Facebook craze for
a long time. I caved with Friendster back in the day and caved with
MySpace and told myself I would never cave again. When one doesnít
have much of a social life, one has very little need for social
"networking." But then I went to grad school with a bunch
of narcissistic, socially awkward writers (like myself), where,
at parties, the ratio of photographs taken to conversations had
was about 503:1. I heard that people were posting photographs on
Facebook. I would see people in class and they would tell me I had
been "tagged." I didnít know what that meant, so I would
start chasing them. They would run away from me, confused, and it
was all very awkward. I had to get an account so I would know what
the heck people were talking about.
Once I joined,
I found the "groups" to be the most amusing part of the
site. Groups on Facebook are very, very stupid. For all of you old
fogies who donít know (i.e. Mom and Dad, because I know youíre going
to ask me to explain all of this later anyway), Facebook users can
join "groups" that show up on their profile, along with
their activities and interests. Like everything else that happens
on Facebook, groups are nothing but an extreme exercise in frivolity.
Examples of Facebook groups include the following:
- Kids Who
Hid in Department Store Clothes Racks While Their Mom was Shopping
- I Believe
the Robots are Our Future
- I Judge
You When You Use Poor Grammar
- The Ultimate
Question: Is Soap Self-Cleaning?
- AA is for
- My Phone
Exploded on Impact
- I Use My
Hand to Show People What Part of Alaska Iím From
- End the
Genocide in Darfur!
Uh, okay maybe
that last one is a "serious" group, but you get the point.
In fact, even the "serious" groups on Facebook arenít
really that serious, as they require absolutely nothing of their
members. In this way, Facebook plays to the spirit of the times.
We live in an age when the measure of a man lies not so much in
what he does as in what he "supports." The emphasis is
decidedly not on our actions or choices, but on some inward, intangible,
theoretical orientation toward The Good, which is almost always
defined only in the most narrow and superficial of ways. If you
want to be righteous, if you want to be open-minded, high-minded,
and noble, all you have to do is associate yourself with the right
groups and causes, which is to say, you donít really have to do
anything. The reverse seems to be true as well: What you do or fail
to do doesnít actually matter as long as you support the right things.
But more on that later. Suffice it to say, I joined a lot of groups
when I first started my account, mostly because I found them to
be hilarious. LOL! Note to old fogies: LOL stands for "laughing
loved the scene in Annie Hall when Annie is moving out of
Alvyís apartment. Annie picks up a box of buttons and starts to
read them aloud: "Impeach EisenhowerÖ Impeach NixonÖImpeach
Lyndon JohnsonÖImpeach Ronald Reagan. I guess these are all yours,"
she says, shoving the box into Alvyís hands.
I wanted my
Facebook page to be like that, because come on, what modern day
President doesnít deserve to be impeached? I joined an Impeach George
W. Bush group, but I couldnít find any impeach groups for the candidates,
so I started my own, just to be prepared: "Impeach Barack Obama,"
"Impeach Hillary Clinton" and "Impeach John McCain."
At the time, I also joined other groups like "My Friends Are
Getting Married, Iím Just Getting Drunk," "Magic Eraser
Enthusiasts" (Have you tried them? Theyíre amazing!), "I
Went to Catholic School and Was Pissed When the CCD Kids Trashed
My Desk," and "Tagalongs Are the Best Girl Scout CookiesÖNot
Samoas." (Later that day, my friend Anna joined the group "Samoas
May Actually Replace Sex One Day," which was clearly an affront
and, needless to say, we havenít spoken since.)
Like most people,
I forgot about the Facebook groups I joined almost immediately.
Fast forward eight months toÖ.drum roll pleaseÖ.THE MOST IMPORTANT
ELECTION OF OUR LIFETIME!! (*Yawn*ÖArenít they all?)
I spent all
day Tuesday checking Facebook. About 80% of my friends donated their
status updates to getting out the vote for Obama. Looking down the
list, the uniformity was astounding. (Note to old fogies: status
updates areÖoh, nevermind!) Facebook kept a running tally of
how many Facebook users had voted and everyone was telling each
other to vote and writing things like "Yes We Can!" It
was like one big public service announcement.
population could be broken down into two major groups, not Republicans
and Democrats, but rather believers and cynics.
would write: I just voted!
would write: My vote just cancelled out your vote.
would write: Iím looking forward to CHANGE!!!
would write: Iím looking forward to CHANGE!!!....ing my underwear.
It is Tuesday after all.
posted pictures of "I Voted" stickers.
posted pictures of "I Farted" stickers. There was even
a YouTube video going around that showed a bunch of earnest Americans
looking into the camera and saying things like, "I just went
into the booth, pulled the curtain, and farted."
Sure it was
all a little ridiculous, but so is the nature of democracy in America,
so I donít really care. It was all pretty amusing.
my surprise when I received a message the next day from a stranger
on Facebook: "Your group has news attention!" It linked
to a story
that said an "Impeach Barack Obama" Facebook group had
already attracted over 700 members, less than 24 hours after the
election was called. I was suddenly an "activist."
Not three minutes
later I received another message, this one from an irate Obama supporter
calling me a racist. I totally panicked. I realized that my only
description of the group was: "Get on board if you want to
be ready to impeach Barack Obama." Admittedly, this did leave
things open to interpretation. So I spent a few minutes hastily
writing a new description of the group (which I stole from an article
by LRC contributor Bill Huff. Thanks, dude!) This was the new description:
recites the following oath, in accordance with Article II, Section
I of the U.S. Constitution:
"I do solemnly
swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
has been created under the assumption that it takes approximately
7 seconds for a modern day President to violate this oath. So
we should be ready.
governments it is held that 'the king can do no wrong;' here we
know no king but the law, no monarch but the constitution; we
hold that every man may do wrong; the higher he is in office,
the more reason there is that he be obliged to answer for his
conduct; and a great officer, if treacherous, is a great criminal,
so that he ought to be made to suffer a great and exemplary punishment."
Elementary Catechism on the Constitution of the United States,
Arthur J. Stansbury, 1828
I went back
to work, confident that my new description would clear up any confusion
about my motivations. Well, either my new description wasnít clear
enough or people donít read. I suspect the latter. There is also
the possibility that most Americans cannot understand politics except
in the most simplistic terms. When was the last time you heard anyone
in the two major parties bring up egregious abuses of executive
power as an "election issue"?
Here are excerpts
from the colorful hate mail Iíve been receiving ever since: (Warning:
a racist motherf__ker, you know that? you cunt! this was such a
leap into the future, but you republicans can't seem to see that
bitch. U know u are an ignorant Bitch! Uneducated and uninformed
hick! Kill yourself. Shame on you, you represent the worst of America.
F__king hick! HAHAAAAAAAAA! YOU MAD CAUSE OUT PRESIDENT IS BLACK?!
FUCK YA! ITS OUR TURN NOW BITCH! HAHA! FUCK MCCAIN! FUCK YOU! AND
BE MAD CAUSE OUR PRESIDENT IS BLACK! HAHA! DUMB BITCH. F__k you.
f__king prick. i hate you racist bitches. you racist, ignorant swine.
I'm reporting you to the secret service. Hey by the way you forgot
to Impeach bush. Ur such a Loser for makin this group like it or
not he is ur President and ur opionion really doesnt matter!!!ELMAO..
IGNORANCE. You truly are showing that you are a person who has no
morals. Just a quick note to let you know what a traitor you are
to the United States of America. racist cunt. asshole. You should
do something for the country that has granted you freedom and equality.
Shut your mouth and move somewhere else. get hit by a bus. You are
disgusting. Kill yourself. End yourself. (And my personal favorite)
It's people like you who are anti America that create a mindset
full of hate. (And my other personal favorite) Breeding hatred
is all this group is doing by attracting weak minded, ill informed
dumbass republicans, christians, and racists.
clearly align themselves with the enlightened, tolerant, forward-looking
left, and Iím sure they "support" all kinds of warm fuzzy
causes on their Facebook pages, but in their prejudice, in their
vitriol, in their willingness to make the most general and sweeping
judgments about others based on the most superficial of criteria,
they expose themselves as no less reactionary, hateful, and irrational
than the "dumbass republicans, christians and racists"
I canít help
but think that the bipartisan Establishment has Americans exactly
where they want us. People are so polarized by the Left-Right dichotomy,
so convinced of the otherís Evil, they canít think objectively about
numbers exploded on Thursday when Vanity Fair posted a blog
about the group and described me as "The Unlikely Mastermind
Behind the Impeach Obama Movement." For better or worse, I
have not limited or censored "my" group in any way. Anyone
can join, and people can write and post whatever they want. As of
this writing, the group has over 6,000 members, 3,000 wall posts,
228 discussion topics, 41 links to articles and videos, and 74 pictures
and political cartoons.
Iím not pleased
or impressed with 90% of what is happening on there, and I donít
really want to be associated with most it, but Iíve simply not had
the time or the inclination to regulate it. I think itís fair to
say that if I ever aspired to a career in politics, those dreams
would be shot. All anyone would have to do would be to point to
a few of the more vile pictures and comments (and there are plenty
to choose from), say it was written "under my name," and
I would be done for. (Sound familiar?)
Now that itís
the weekend, Iím trying to figure out what to do about this. Itís
quite a pickle. People have been sending me messages telling me
I should appoint "officers" for the group. Apparently,
officers can help you "clean up" the chat boards and delete
things that are being posted by "trolls," but Iím not
sure I even want to try. What if I recruit officers to help me regulate
the site and something slips past us (which it will, because who
has time to monitor all this stuff?) If youíre in the business of
censorship, then wonít anything that is left on the site have the
implicit stamp of "approval" on it? In that case, isnít
a hands-off policy best?
of disgust at some of the more obscene nonsense, Iíve considered
deleting the group altogether, but I donít think I want to do that,
especially now that weíre getting press coverage. On some level,
groups like these do send a message to the political establishment:
There are substantial numbers of Americans who view the entire federal
government as illegitimate. Anything that works to de-sanctify and
de-legitimatize the state, that encourages people to view all politicians
as self-serving frauds, as emperors without clothes, is a good thing.
fellow LRC contributor John Delano to be an officer, and I think
weíre going to try to write a more detailed description of the group
by the end of the weekend, but Iím off to meet someone for lunch
and I was hoping to get some reading done today and I wanted to
cook a nice dinner and maybe go on a hike, so I donít know. The
sun is shining. Real life beckons.
The one thing
I have had time to do is to respond to some of the messages that
have come to me directly. Below is an exchange with "Harry,"
the only person who emailed me before the new description was posted
(before he could have known what the group was really "about"):
you are a racist motherf__ker, you know that? this was such a leap
into the future, but you republicans can't seem to see that. you'll
be getting more messages from more of my friends, you cunt! sincerely
yours, bitch, Harry F. and America
Hi Harry, Thanks for the message. For your information I also started
an "Impeach Hillary Clinton" group and an "Impeach McCain" group
and I am also a part of an "Impeach George W. Bush Group." I don't
have a problem with black people, just politicians and the federal
government in general. Don't jump to conclusions! Ellen
ellen. i just encounter so many racists its hard to distinguish
them from the rest of the republican party. no hate whatsoever.
I'm not a republican either. Just FYI, here is the new description
of the group. [insert new description of group]
sounds cool, good luck
So, maybe there
is hope after all?
Finnigan [send her mail]
graduated from the University of Montana in May with an M.F.A. in
Creative Writing. She currently teaches writing online to Catholic
homeschooled kids and was the organizer of the Missoula for Ron
Paul meet-up group.
© 2008 LewRockwell.com