Wrecking Ball

Sunset with bare trees, aftermath of the gypsy moths
Sunset with bare trees, aftermath of the gypsy moths

We didn’t get our papers this morning so I called our delivery guy and he told me “no one got a paper, the presses broke down.” It made for an interesting morning. We read a few articles online and then got on with the day. No news is good news.

My sister and her husband hosted a holiday weekend cookout and six of the seven siblings were there. Their backyard was a lovely setting for our first get-together since the pandemic began. We were caught up in couple of hours and moved on to meatier topics after dinner. I was thinking of how my mom relished the after conversations and the opinions from family members that often surprised her. She would even follow-up with her take the next time we saw her.

One of my brothers lamented the fact that his daughter got so rattled by the pandemic that she wouldn’t see him and he blamed the media for scaring everyone to death. Some family members countered with stories of friends who were stricken. The conversation took a political turn and my brother had to go. As many times as we’ve talked to him about all the hot topics we never realized he was a Trump fan.

The last time I saw my friend, Dave, before he died he had just spent time with his family and he was blown away by the discovery that they were Republicans. He said “Our parents didn’t hold these values. “ I probably said something about evolution and people turning against parents as the natural order but I don ‘t recall. I remember my father expressing the same sentiment in painting class when talking about the family he married into. “They’re all Republicans, except Ann and Bob (one set of my aunts and uncles).

Another brother suggested there was no truth anymore and and my sister added that we used to all watch the same news shows. Someone mentioned our cousin’s Facebook feed that reads like a litany of right wing talking points. I mentioned an article I read in the New Yorker written by someone who worked for the Murdochs. He was paid a bonus for each “this’ll get em goin” topic he found in the recesses of social media platforms.

I suggested the profit motive for the platforms had a lot to do with the divisiveness and I tried to connect the dots with the Netflix documentary, “The Great Hack,”that laid out how easy it was for Cambridge Analytica to harness facebook’s data points and then target the “persuadables” in the swing states with ads designed to “get ’em goin” thereby tipping the scales in the 2016 election. They described it as a piece of cake. But by the time I got the gist out there were four separate conversations going on at the table.

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