The national mind is a space through which winds whistle. How else to explain the modern phenomenon of the social influencer?
A to-do developed Tuesday over the outing of a Twitter account holder in a story authored by Taylor Lorenz of The Washington Post, those bearers of inconvenient truths. Under the headline “Meet the woman behind Libs of TikTok, secretly fueling the right’s outrage machine,” Lorenz’s story recounted a Twitterer’s feats of sensationalism and facts distortion
It took long enough to meet her, a full seven paragraphs. Those keeping score at home will want to jot down the name of Chaya Raichick, a Brooklyn-based real estate seller in November 2020 when she launched the account that became the famed Libs. So famed that I’d never heard of it until Lorenz broke the story. But, evidently, for those into memes mostly mocking the LGBQT+ crowd, Libs of TikTok is a go-to.
That group evidently includes Laura Ingraham of Fox News, who responded dutifully after Libs posted a video of a woman teaching sex education to Kentucky schoolchildren, according to Lorenz’s account. Libs labeled the woman a “predator.” The following evening, Ingraham demanded to know, “When did our public schools, any schools, become what are essentially grooming centers for gender-identity radicals?”
Comically, at least to my mind and I’ll take humor where I can find it, some people on the internet were riled over the revelation of Raichick’s identity. Evidently, or perhaps they only suppose this, she favors the modus operandi of a specter, spooking and haunting unseen. Some people are brave only in the shadows.
Getting outed — “doxed” is the new fave term — while trying to remain anonymous warrants a title: “Blunders of the Invisible World,” a variation of a book title by Cotton Mather, the Puritan writer and hater of yore.
Social media is a plaything of dopes and dullards of every political stripe. One can only assume that, for every Libs of TikTok, there is some correspondent anonymous source of left-wing lunacy dispensing memes ridiculing the right. Only the intellectual deterioration of the country can explain the unfortunate fact that millions of people, from TV news blow-drieds to Joe and Jane Lunchbuckets here and everywhere, respond so passionately and predictably to these prods.
Those painted into that broad swath likely will want nothing to do with a cranky editor’s advice on what to do about it all, but, nonetheless, herewith, wisdom, or what little can be eked from so limited a source:
Step away from the screens. Or at least social media. For God’s sake, don’t you see you’re being played for a fool by fools? These people, named, unnamed, whoever the hell they are, don’t care two licks for facts, for truth. They know your buttons and push them incessantly, and you feed them with every click and thumb swipe.
Do not pretend this is a matter only for the right or left. If you’ve a side, someone is exploiting it, incessantly trying to work you into a froth over some wrong, some injustice. We should care about wrongs and injustices. But these people don’t. They care about inciting you, getting you to take a click and keep on clicking. They’ll lie to you to do it, and they do it all the time. You think you can swim through their sewage and not reek of it. You can’t. Have the smarts and guts to be done with it.
Now, I hate this next part because I’ve already given you the answer. You should take it and run with it. But some of you can’t. Some of you will keep going back to that poisoned well.
So, if you do, at least have the brains and the sheer intellectual curiosity to check what you see, not in the way of a propagandist but in the way of a scientist. A propagandist looks merely for that which will affirm a position, regardless of the credibility of whatever accomplishes that objective. A scientist tests a theory by seeking to disprove it. This means seeking information from the other side and testing it.
I don’t know the teacher in the Kentucky classroom from Eve, and I know nothing about the veracity of whatever the Raichick from Brooklyn purported. I resolutely don’t give a damn. But if you do, if you are ready to mash the outrage pedal to the floor, at least investigate before hitting the gas. Don’t be a sucker. Few things are so intellectually vile as that. Ask hard questions and pursue hard answers before romping in the rancor.
Critical thinking never hurt anyone. It’s the lack of it that’s killing us.