For as long as memory reaches, there’s always been someone saying, “Everything is going to Hell in a handbasket.” For reasons that may seem obvious, I’ve been thinking about that old phrase more than usual these days.
It seems that this phrase originated back when folks having been executed on the guillotine had their severed heads caught in a basket. Naturally, such criminals were presumed to be dispatched immediately to hell, hence the expression.
Since we’re not being beheaded, a handbasket seems a mighty small container to take on the journey to Hell, so perhaps we should consider that we may be going to Hell in a laundry basket. Not the little ones that we tote from the bathroom to the washing machine, but one of those big ones on wheels that we see in hotel hallways gathering the soiled linens.
If there’s a stairway to Heaven, then there’s surely a service elevator to Hell. And just when did we push the elevator button?
I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. When we stopped talking about child rearing (or raising, if you absolutely must) and started referring to it as parenting, the focus inappropriately shifted from child to parent. Many of these “parented” children are now grown and have children of their own, who will probably be parented, too. When is that elevator going to get here?
In my generation, many of us were brought up playing games with the family, and Daddy was a stickler that one wins without gloating (too much) and loses without anger. But the Democrats pouted quite a bit when Al Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 but George Bush got the presidency with five electoral votes and the help of the Supreme Court.
When Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College but got almost 3,000,000 more votes than Donald Trump, many Democrats had an almost complete meltdown. But neither of those situations even roughly compares with what we have experienced following Joe Biden’s beating Donald Trump, soundly in the Electoral College and by more than 7,000,000 popular votes. Has the longest conniption fit in American political history signaled that the elevator is here to pick up this laundry basket?
This last week has put Facebook under the microscope between 60 Minutes, the whistleblower, an outage, a congressional hearing, and a statement from Mark Zuckerberg. Together with its errant children WhatsApp and Instagram (or WhatsThat and Whogivesadamn, to my way of thinking), Facebook is getting just a touch of the cancel culture to which it has frequently provided a platform.
We may wish we knew how to quit Facebook, but we don’t. Sure, folks walk away. I know a handful who have, but they did so for a handful of very different reasons. There may be more who leave in light of this week’s developments. We’ll see.
From my own perch, which is decidedly anecdotal, Facebook is too often used to amplify the narrative of all the cable news networks. It’s not that hard to figure out what MSNBC to Fox to OAN is saying because it will show up on one’s Facebook feed, from members of their respective audiences who have shampooed with gasoline and set their hair on fire.
Of course, we can weed our feed by unfriending and unfollowing, and that’s a choice we all get to make. We can look for the pictures of grandchildren and the puppies and the random clickbait that we can’t seem to resist. We can even look at the most outrageous posts and their resulting comments, just to be amused by the bemusement of others. All available for your enjoyment night and day, seven days a week. Except last Monday.
Ever what relationship, if any at all, that we choose to have with social media is ours to make. But whatever that may be can find some uncomfortable truth leaching out of the virtual world into the literal one. One doesn’t want there to be a collective eyeroll when one’s name is mentioned over drinks or at a dinner party–not for what one has said or done, but for what one has posted.
Facebook and all the others in the social media basket probably won’t take us to Hell. This just happened to be the brouhaha that needed some context at this point, before media attention shifts to something else.
Besides, we can talk about bipartisan infrastructure and budget reconciliation some other time.