There it was again, an incriminating-looking photo with a damning caption about a politician, posted to Facebook with no comment. Weeks ago someone close to me posted it too. 60 seconds on Google was sufficient to learn what anyone who saw it should have immediately suspected, that it was inaccurate, deceptive, and fake. I messaged my close one about it, but I didn’t expect that message to have any effect. We believe what we want to believe, right?
But then there it was again, shared by someone else close to me. Except this time, in the comments, was a word of correction from my close one who posted it the first time.
All is not lost. Some people are still listening.
That needs saying, because the ones who are not listening, the ones who have turned to plotting instead, are getting all our attention. Mail bombs and mass shootings demand attention. It’s what they’re designed for. The briefest of glimpses into the closed circuits of paranoid, hateful, racist discourse that feed these plotters induces stultifying despair. So many people tuned exclusively to villainy and conspiracy, and with deadly, deadly consequences.
Yet they are not the only ones, so we can’t give up. Many are still listening. Though we may never learn of their existence, they are there and they are persuadable. To go silent now is to abandon them to the fearmongers, and we know too well what fear wants to make people do. We must keep at it, then, with the clarifying and the correcting, the insisting on the truth of things and in our own discourse and that of our friends and leaders.
Some people are still listening. Now more than ever we need to be talking to them.