What it's like to watch someone you love fall down the Fox News rabbit-hole

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/17/heil-hannity.html

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I would challenge everyone in this situation to do everything you can to continue to keep that relationship intact. Maybe try the ‘agree to disagree’ approach and see if it’s possible to not discuss political topics. Ever. Try to remember that there’s just as much political divide across the entire country as there is in that living room, and most of us are getting along just fine (you don’t hear those stories). I know that won’t always work, but trying to be the ‘bigger person’ can go a long ways and it’s worth a shot.

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Of Mice and Men comes to mind.

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I think it discounts the elderly’s agency when we blame Fox news. I have older relatives, some struggling with dementia, but weirdly none of them choose to watch Fox or turned into huge racists, despite being homebound and not tech savvy.

Frankly I’m sick and tired of this narrative that the dastardy propaganda outfits, be they Russian, Fox News, or “fake news” in general poisoned otherwise reasonable people.

They’re shitty boomers who have more wealth than common sense - sittin in their mcmansions not on merit, but because of structural racism (ex: how many black GIs got free college and cheap housing loans post WWII).

Fuck them.

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I had a relative spouting Trumpist BS at a Christmas event, so to change the subject I asked him to tell a WWII story.

Then I asked him if he was fighting with the allies.

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I blew off a family Easter event this weekend because of some of my Fox People™ relatives. They can F off and choke on Hannity and Carlson peeps.

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Having watched this happen in my family I’d say for me it’s more like the damage was already there, there was already a backdrop of general dysfunction, but when Fox told everyone that makes it okay to hurl abuse at people because it’s their fault you’re miserable, a lot of people collectively realized there’s no point in having people like that in your life… at all… even if you already did it for thirty years. You can turn Fox off but you really can’t just shut people in your life up, you can only avoid them.

Generally, nah, I wouldn’t try to save a relationship unless you really think it’s worth saving and you’re prepared to sacrifice for it. A peaceful life is not a good trade for the opportunity to win some arguments.

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At this point what is a conservative if you take away the racism, misogyny and fear?

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David Brooks?

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That’s what my wife and I try to do with her mom. She’s always watching Fox News.

My mom is near the other end of the spectrum, constantly watching liberal news sources. It’s almost as straining, even though we agree with a lot of what she says. It’s just soaking in bad news no matter what you are doing.

Take some time to back off from all of the news and try to enjoy living while you can.

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Lonely.  

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Perfection Of Propaganda is the MO of the Fox “News”. It seems to be just to gin up hatred, fear, and anger amongst the lesser anchored citizenry.

However, it might have another goal: making the famous quote attributed to Jay Gould come true.

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

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We have been playing the “bigger person” for too long and just what has that gotten us? More Nazis than ever before, a president who is openly racist, and half the country duped in to behaving in the most un-American fashion.
Eventually, we need reach a point where we decide that intolerant world views can no longer be tolerated. Trump, Fox, and the like have hastened the approach of that day. It’s time we stop pretending that these toxic world views are acceptable for a person to have. It’s time we took a stand and say “No! I will not tolerate this intolerance.” because if we continue to compromise, we only lend credibility to their views. One must earn a seat at the table.

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So are these humanizing stories meant to convince us they are just fallible humans, bounded and blinded by their own biases and not actual monsters?

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My parents were religious Bill O’Reilly watchers. It was their three minute hate. They got to drink and scream at the TeeVee: it’s all them awful Others Fault! Everything!

I watched a bit of it just to see what they were stuffing into their heads. Sheer lunacy really. I have watched way more Bill O than Rachel M. It was hard to talk to them about almost anything in the news because they just believed blatantly false, easily disproved bullshit. I do think it poisoned our relationship for the last few decades. ymmv.

My best buddy kayaker is a rabid right winger and after a while I said, let’s just not discuss this crap, we agree on way more stuff than we disagree on and I don’t want to argue about that other stuff. We’ve been buddies for almost thirty years now. Just went out on the bay on Sunday, might again this weekend. I trust him with my life and vice versa I am sure.

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I’ve lived both sides of this coin with my parents and my in-laws. All boomers, both sides from farming backgrounds.

My parents were Tea Party. They actually sent Lipton to Obama. Moral majority and driven by those values. They had voted Republication my entire life. But when Trump ran it broke them. They couldn’t square their personal values with anything about him. I knew they were critical thinkers. They’ve always been willing to discuss politics without letting anger get in the way. Seeing them in real time dump the Republican party as it shifted and remind me what they thought about anyone spewing hate was heartening.

My in-laws were more split. My mother in law voted for Obama both terms and my father in-law switched away from the Democratic party on term two. As Trump came to the front my father-in-law lost a high paying management job to downsizing and blamed diversification. My mother-in-law completed her doctorate but has been having trouble finding a new job that uses her degree. They always loved a debate or argument for the energy it has. Discussions get heated, but that just shows your conviction. No hard feelings after. But with Trump a whole host of specters suddenly came up. Conspiracy theories about immigrants. How diversification was a plot to replace all white people (men especially) in the workplace. Bizarre arguments about how Blank Panther is the worst Marvel movie.

It’s been so bizarre to see the people I love change so much over that man. Would I have expected to see either change in my lifetime? No. I thought they were set in their ways. All of them. Now it’s just navigating family events with my in-laws that’s my big worry.

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I’ve been thinking for a while now that one of the best things many Americans could do for their aging parents is to child-lock Fox News away from their TVs.

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The guy who suddenly rethought his position on stand your ground when he imagined Trayvon Martin carrying a gun? Brooks is all of those things in spades.

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Fallible human beings can be manipulated into committing monstrous acts when the wrong influences leverage those biases. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of which influences we expose ourselves to.

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