say what you want

Some of my best friends are black/gay/Muslims/Democrats/from LaVerkin.

In the discipline, we call this a sin license, because what is about to follow that quip will invariably be rhetorically transgressive, though, I have to admit, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Some of my best friends are Democrats.” Too risky, even for a sin license.

It’s been an interesting study to watch the idea of free speech unfold over the last six years, and I say that because I have doubts that had we a McCain/Romney-type in office over this period, the great interweb would be less peppered with anonymous, bigoted rants. Without the progressive movement of marriage equality, political posts would be more stained with second amendment issues than conspiracies about equality eclipsing freedom. The free flow of anonymous vitriol would lack the accelerants of hate and ignorance and the entitled pontification from commenters who feel everyone should be exposed to their posted opinions.

Like fire, where there are three essential elements for it to exist – air, fuel and heat – there appear to be three essential ingredients to the current communication conflagration on anything; access, opinion, and anonymity. With opinion being the fuel, it appears to be a renewable resource. Just six years ago there were only 100 million Facebook users. Today there are 1.23 billion users with the fastest growing demographic in the United States being not young people, nope. It’s Boomers.

While Facebook requires an authentic identity to establish an account, nary a comment section of most Internet channels of the Fourth Estate does, dismissing credibility and responsibility, creating doctrines of misinformation and inflammatory dogmas never before experienced under the First Amendment, many of which begin with a sin license.

What’s interesting, at least to my little brain, is the explosive amount of anonymous hate spiel as if the elements of access, opinion and anonymity have been exponentially exacerbated by that grand new accelerant called social media. And under the auspices that democracy will only function with an informed populace, I have to conclude that we are in a crisis of logic, a drought of reasoning, a void of skepticism, and even though some of my best friends are boomers, this fire shows no signs of stopping, at least not in the next two years.

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